If you like solving mysteries and puzzles, try explaining how the following real-life scenario was once possible.
The timeline might be tough to follow, but it’s early May, and we’re strolling down the street of a North Country community, running several errands. First stop: the Peoples Bank, where we make a deposit and then exit at exactly 1:15 pm. Down the street, we stop at the Citizens Bank to open an account, but the sign on the door says they’re closed for lunch until 1 pm. Glancing inside the restaurant next door, we see several bank employees eating lunch beneath a wall clock that says 12:20 pm. Rather than wait, we move on. » Continue Reading.
A few years ago, a Planning Board Member in Clifton Park, Saratoga County posed a question I have never heard asked by anyone at the Adirondack Park Agency : how much carbon dioxide will be released by this subdivision, and what can we do about it?
As it turns out, the carbon dioxide released due to simply clearing forest land for subdivisions is eye-popping, and we know that the Adirondack Park Private Land use and Development Plan law gives the APA a lot of leverage in regulating subdivision design, lot layout and forest clearing – if they choose to use it. » Continue Reading.
Psychologically, I am ready for winter to be over. I like the snow and the skiing and the trips to the gym that I just can’t justify when it’s nice out, but I would really like some nice warm days to come our way. Maybe I’m not ready for winter to be completely done, but I could use a February or early March thaw.
I was sitting here reading the other night, when the radio suddenly turned off. This is a common occurrence, due to the fact that my radio is a “solar” radio. I put solar in quotes because this is what the radio was advertised as, but it is, in fact a crank/rechargeable radio that happens to have a small solar panel on it.
This past summer I spent a little bit of money getting solar lights and this radio. Last winter I had used an old digital alarm clock for my radio. That clock was the same one that’s been waking me up since I was a freshman in high school. It was a good, old-fashioned plug in clock radio that had a battery backup so that if the power went out, your alarm would still go off. I went through a lot of nine-volt batteries listening to NCPR last winter, so many that I had to repair the wire harness a few times. I took that clock radio to the campground last spring and decided to leave it there when I got my new solar radio. » Continue Reading.
It’s twenty-four degrees below zero outside, and even though it’s warm in the cabin, I’m still going to be wearing longjohns under my jeans all day. I had a problem with the wood stove last night. One of the metal grates that keeps the fire and coals up above the ash trap got knocked off kilter. Not wanting what was sure to be a very hot fire sitting in the ash pit all night, I attempted to put the grate back into its proper place. Even with a big metal poker and heavy leather welding gloves, I still managed to burn my thumb pretty bad. The smell of burnt leather and flesh made for an aroma that was… unpleasant.
Last week, I wrote about my plans to build a new wood shed this summer. I estimated that I will burn a little more than four cords of wood this year, and so I would like to cut, split and stack at least five cords of wood for next winter. My supply this year is getting pathetically low. I have a lot of extra soft wood that I can burn when the hardwood runs out, but on nights like the last couple, I want nice big hunks of cherry and maple roasting in the stove, not pine and poplar. » Continue Reading.
Well, the January thaw made for a nice weekend, even though the skiing suffered a little bit. It was warm enough last Sunday that I actually was able to get the four wheeler going and plow the driveway. I only had to hike in for a week or so, and can now once again drive all the way up to the cabin. I really didn’t mind the hike and since the four-wheeler won’t start unless the temperature is about forty degrees, I’m sure I’ll be hiking in again before winter’s over.
It was also a nice break for the wood stove, and more importantly, my wood supply. Or more specifically, my dry hardwood supply. The stacks of wood were definitely in need of a break. » Continue Reading.
One doesn’t read much about high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing (HVHHF) for natural gas extraction in the Adirondack media – for a good reason. After all, who thinks they would ever profit from drilling into the bedrock of North America – crystalline granitic-gneissic bedrock yielding uphill to massive anorthosite blocks making up the high peaks region, part of the Canadian Shield, and among the oldest root rocks in North America. The geological survey of the Mount Marcy region in 1837 knew more than enough of their science not to expect gas-laden sediments here. » Continue Reading.
A reader recently asked me what a normal day out at the cabin was like. Unfortunately, most of my days consist of getting up, going to work, and coming home to go to bed. But on the weekends and when I’m not working, I’ve settled into a nice routine mixed with plenty of different chores. No, not chores. Activities.
Pico or Ed usually wake me up on the weekend, so I get to sleep in until about six. After ignoring them for an indeterminate amount of time, I relent and get their food. Then Pico and I take a walk up the Right Trail to the Upper Camp. I check the log cabin that’s another quarter mile or so into the woods. I live in the middle of nowhere, and Upper Camp is even closer to the center of the middle of nowhere. » Continue Reading.
There’s snow flying around in the air. It’s been snowing on and off all day, with some sticking to my car this morning, but there’s none on the ground. I noticed the slightly silvery coloring of the pines and hemlocks from snow sticking to the branches, though. I’m glad it’s not sticking on the ground yet, but it won’t be long, and even though it’s been cold, we’ve been lucky that the snow didn’t start flying a week or two ago.
They say that this is the remnants of Hurricane Sandy, which at the cabin turned out to be a whole lot of nothing. We had a wind storm last winter where I could hear trees coming down with a fair amount of regularity, but this past Monday night didn’t add up to much. There was one branch down on my road, so it turned out I didn’t need to bring my chainsaw with me. But I guess it’s good that I was prepared to cut my road clear to get to work. Or maybe it’s not good. I don’t know. » Continue Reading.
The nights are longer and cooler and the daily high temperatures are lower than the summer lows. I’m glad for the solar lights strung around the cabin. They cast a pleasant blueish glow without being blinding. Wearing a headlamp literally all time last winter really got old, and it’s nice to be able to see without one. Now I can find my glass of Maker’s Mark without burning batteries.
Ed got another mouse last night. He can never get them during normal waking hours, only in the middle of the night. So, after work, I didn’t do anything that could be called “chores” or “work” or anything like that. I sat on the boulder that serves as my front step and played guitar. I let all the animals out to enjoy the warmth of the afternoon sun. Pico ate grass and layed around, Ed went out hunting, and Herbie was somewhere doing whatever it is fat cats do. » Continue Reading.
I had a great trip to South Carolina last weekend for a friend’s wedding. Shorts and flip flops all day was a nice change from the jeans and sweatshirts our weather has required. And for some reason, this trip has caused me to think a lot about what it means to live off the grid. Maybe it was all that time spent on planes breathing recycled air.
I’m not sure, but I do know that I consider myself off the grid with no running water, electricity or even indoor plumbing. But I have cell phone service and my blog has a Facebook page. How off the grid is that? » Continue Reading.
Never in my life have I ever been this excited about buying light bulbs. Seriously, I told everyone about it. This is a great day in my life.
Don’t get me wrong, when I’ve bought lights in the past, it’s been a joy. But ordering strings of solar-powered LED lights was new high. These lights will make a big impact in my existence, especially during the long winter when the sun goes down at four in the afternoon.
My original plan for this summer was to get a small solar panel and a battery to wire so that I could run some Christmas lights in the cabin. Nothing much, but enough so that I didn’t have to wear a headlamp for six months. That got real old last winter. But after shopping around and realizing that I would have to spend several hundred dollars to get a suitable setup, I was relieved and delighted to find the lights I just ordered. » Continue Reading.
A cast-iron pan, a quart pot and a tea kettle. It’s hard to believe that I spent six months pretty much just using those three utensils to make all of my meals. And it’s not that I had been eating out a lot or eating unhealthy meals, but with only a little propane stove to cook on, I got by with the bare minimum of dishes. Plus it was really hard to wash dishes with no running water.
Another writer told me to use spray bottles to do the dishes. Put warm, soapy water in one and clean in the other to save on water, since I was filling a five-gallon jug every couple of days and hauling it to the cabin. It was a great idea and definitely saved on water, but I found that using the spray bottle to rinse was just not effective. The wash bottle was great, but I still just ran the spigot on the jug to rinse. » Continue Reading.
Life is definitely easier out here now. Most of the trees are leafing out, flowers are blooming and the woodstove has been idle for almost two weeks. And tonight I’ll be having fiddleheads sautéed with garlic.
The work season has begun, and I’ll be starting off the season on trail crew again. After a week or so of clearing trails, I’ll be moving out to the campground I work at. There’s some positives and negatives to this: I live at work, I don’t have the freedom that the cabin offers me, but there’s indoor plumbing and the commute is great. » Continue Reading.
Do you have questions about the connection between last year’s flooding and global climate change? Are you skeptical about the causes of climate change? Are you looking for options to cut your energy bills and reduce your dependence on fossil fuels?
An upcoming Community Climate Forum is expected to address all of these issues, and more. The forum, sponsored by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Adirondack Program and the Adirondack Green Circle, is scheduled for April 22, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Pendragon Theater in Saranac Lake. » Continue Reading.
It’s sometimes surprising what catches my attention or sparks an interest, and the subject of this piece is a good example. After all, why would anyone want to hear about North Country linemen, those workers who climb power poles or telephone poles as part of their daily job? Well, their daily routine might be as boring as any other job most of the time, but linemen have a measure of danger built into their profession, beginning with working high above the ground.
When something goes wrong, the results can be spectacular. The stories that follow do not address tragedies, which were once frequent. These instead are amazing stories of survival, coming from my category, “No bones were broken.” » Continue Reading.
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