There is a lot to learn. Our first week, the battery system went down, and we accidentally put diesel gas into the coolant reservoir in the diesel generator (that charges the batteries and provides electricity). Clearly, our city slicker ways are going to showcase our lack of expertise as quickly and efficiently as possible. This means no lights, internet, or electricity. Our first few days we were completely in the dark (literally and figuratively!) We use a wood burning oven for heat, and have a gas stove, so we were warm, and very well fed. We put a kettle on top of the wood burning stove to boil water, and used it to wash dishes. Though it was intimidating to be plunged into a completely disconnected world, it was truly wonderful. There was no single thought for answering a message, or needing to be available to anyone or anything. We ate when we were hungry, read by the windows, and listened to the silence that surrounds us. It was as if for just a few mere days we were nothing but animals in the dark again.
As romantic as it was to enjoy utter solitude, there is still the underlining fear that accidents happen easy, and we had no way to call out for help. Lucky for us, just a couple days in to our mishap, we had a few forest rangers stop by to say hello. I recall the moment they first arrived, I rushed to the door quite excited that someone from the outside world was here and was so thankful to be able to let someone know all of our access to contact the wider world was down. I’m sure my overly excited demeanor and slightly frantic smile was really encouraging of faith in our back country living abilities. They reviewed the sheriff radio transmitter with us, and reminded us to keep wood on the fire and the radio on, but managed to say these things without chuckling at us. Which was very nice of them.
The rangers let the Carters (owners) know of our return to a world without electricity. The Carters made their way back in a few short days to help us out. Now all is well with the generator (We have successfully switched to the back up, for now) and batteries and we charge up for a few hours every day, and have internet again!
Our first few weeks we ate lavishly. When you have a full cowgirl kitchen at your finger tips, access to years of collected recipes, a pound of dried morels and freezers full of home frozen goods, there simply is no holding back. There is no microwave, but there is more cast iron cookware than anyone can dream. We make bread and cookies once a week.
As a decade long vegetarian, I made the decision to eat meat while we are here. Much of the stored meat for us comes from the land surrounding us, or the Carter’s daughter’s ranch. I haven’t felt sick from it or anything, as I expected I might. To be honest, after the first day I ate bacon, we christened everything we ate with bacon for the next couple of days. Bacon with breakfast, BLT’s, bacon on home-made mashed potatoes, bacon with a side of bacon, and some more bacon. There is also beef bacon from the daughters ranch. It looks like beef jerky. This too, I consumed with voracious dedicated pleasure.
It was quizzically warm late into the season, so we took great advantage and hiked and explored nearly every day leading up to Thanksgiving. We have hiked and explored the abandoned Deadwood mine and water fall, as well as ascended up a ways on a few mountains. The farthest we have hiked in a day so far is seven miles. We bring Ruff, but don’t bring Dolly on our long treks.
(Ruff is our earnest and sweet 7-year-old bully breed mix, and Dolly is our resilient, very flatulent, and one of a kind 15-year-old shiba inu.)
Ruff has taken to being a mountain dog with the greatest of ease. Dolly had a really rough start. She is mostly blind, and her hearing isn’t great (unless it involves treats), so it was a bit confusing for her. She has now mastered the layout of the cabin, and set herself nicely into the routine we have built. She has become accustomed to the joy of lounging by the fire while her servants keeping it rolling through the day, and because it gets cold at night we swaddle her in blankets and let her sleep between our legs on the bed. Having realized that this is a pretty sweet deal, she perked up rather quickly and, is now as playful as ever.
Neat things to note from our first weeks:
We found a nearly complete and long dead horse skeleton by the river on a hike on during our second week!
(The Carters release all of their horses and mules at night when they are here. The animals spend time grazing by the river and return by morning. One of the first stories they told us is that they have only lost one horse, they think to wolves. We wonder if they were the bones we found!)
Many Blue Jays hang around the cabin, we set out lots of seed for them. We often hear a hawk cry, but have yet to see it. There are two massive ravens that live near by and they fly over head almost daily while we walk.
We had a 15 minute conversation with a chipmunk. Zach and I took turns chirping to it, and it would mimic our calls. Then it would chirp and we would mimic. It was hilarious, and if anyone had seen us, I’m sure we looked nuts.
We’ve seen fox eyes only once at night. A previous caretaker tamed one to eat from his hand, but I think our dogs scare it away. I am trying to keep my eyes peeled and am hopeful we might be able to coax it out of hiding. There is a fair amount of fox scat around the cabin so I know he/she is near.
We have found multiple little old mining operations and housing structures! They are fun to explore and wonder about the people who once lived here.
We found moose tracks. They were so big I could put my entire hand in the depression of the cleats in the snow and wiggle my fingers!
Ta Ta for now,