On The Brink

Our near death experience on the road last night.

We had our first snow yesterday. We were sitting in our truck ready to go to town and there they were; the first few flakes of the year.

Here it comes. Snowmaggedon. And slippery-as-hell roads.

The county and city road clearing crews are, for the most part, prepared but some things you just can’t fix…or can you?

We were headed back from town about 5:30pm last evening when we started up the main road that goes to our intersection. It’s a big loop and the side we were traversing was washed out completely about a year and a half ago so we’d always had to go the long way around to get to our turn near the washed out side.

It seemed like forever before the county finally got to work this summer and cleaned up the mess left by the washout, graded it and started the first portion of the paving. We were so happy! I can’t tell you how many times we turned the wrong way to go the long way to town before we remembered “our side” was now open. The new route saved us about five miles one way into town.

The road is a fairly steep winding grade up the hillside with a VERY steep slope dropping off hundreds of feet to the bottom at a creek. A few months ago, someone stole a vehicle and rolled it over the edge where I can’t imagine what it looked like plummeting down the grade before it slammed into the bottom, leaving it smashed in the front, it’s doors wide open. They brought in one of those really big tow trucks and I imagine it must have taken a lot of power and cable to get that truck up and out of there.

Back to yesterday.

We began to ascend the road slowly and I cringed when I saw the shear delineation of wet road turn to obviously icy pavement and sure enough, as soon as we hit the icy part, we began to slide around.

I covered my eyes and my heart began to pound. My husband continued to maneuver the truck slowly up the grade but we lost traction one more time and started to slide toward the edge. I completely freaked out and just prayed we would stop before we went over.

It seemed like forever after we regained traction and SLOWLY crept up the remaining length of the road to the top.

I’ll never use that road again until spring or until they put guard rails up.

Wait, I forgot to mention…NO GUARD RAILS on this thing!

As we topped the hill, my husband pulled over to put the truck into four wheel drive and we noticed another vehicle across the street pulled over with a woman doing something outside. I’m not sure what she said but my husband told her what had happened and he said she had much the same experience going up just in front of us.

When we got home, I called the city not understanding it was a county matter. I wanted to warn someone right away of the treacherous condition of the road. Someone was bound to go over the edge sooner or later. I had my husband call 911 too as I was only able to leave a message.

I posted about our experience on Facebook and asked the question “does anyone else think this road should have a guard rail?”. Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks so. The general sentiment of the conversation on Facebook was that the people wanted one but the engineer who designed the new road had left extra space as a shoulder on the drop off side to negate the necessity of having a guard rail.

Stupid!!!! Once you lose traction, your vehicle is going as far as it needs to to reach that edge and go on over; that buffer is only going to serve to give you a second or two more to contemplate your imminent death before over you go. Especially going downhill due to good ‘ol gravity. We were going UP the hill when we almost piled over that edge.

My son rides the school bus that way and I’m calling the school to warn them and urge them to change the route. In the meantime, we’re going to have to pick him up from school every day now and give him a ride home. That section of road is a death trap.

I wrote the county an email also. My husband and I will NOT be using that road until something is done. I don’t want to die any time soon. I just hope the county takes this situation seriously and either closes the road or puts in a guard rail before it’s too late.

If we want to plunge down a slope at breakneck speed, we want to be on a sled on our property.

 

The Monolith and Some Quick Updates

Our upgrades and fixes.

We’ve been slammed the past few days; hence no blog. Thought I’d post of couple of photos of one or our most impressive “looking” upgrades: Our new solar panel rack!

Took us a whole day and we just got our tent/shed today. Although not a structure of wood, it’s snow-load worthy. I hope it does what it says it does.

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We have a new sweet addition to the family. A six month old kitty! Took him to the vet today. All is well. Getting snipped in a few weeks.

We discovered through a process of elimination, that, as I suspected, recharging the RV house batteries is taking up a huge chunk of our energy consumption. I have not seen ONE other person mention that when calculating their energy load for their solar setup.

We’ve also learned that almost ALL inverters shut down the battery bank WAY too late after the batteries are almost dead. An industry wide problem almost NOBODY is addressing, except Missouri Wind and Solar. They are the ONLY company that makes a low voltage shutoff relay. It turns off the power to the inverter when your batteries are at fifty percent or you can adjust to your preference (at your own risk).

If you value your battery bank you should order one here Low Voltage Disconnect Relay Switch. Ours is working perfectly so far and it was easy to install.

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Catch up some more when I have a minute or two. Have a shed to put up tomorrow.

Progress!

Halloween On The Range

It’s not the same anymore.

Keep in mind that Halloween is my absolute FAVORITE holiday ever, when reading the following poem. It’s just not the same without the trick or treaters and the huge display we used to have.

Last year I had the bright idea to light torches and walk down our driveway past the neighbor’s house in celebration. They called the sheriff.

Then, because the real estate agent had given them the code to our section of the larger property, they opened up OUR private gate and trespassed onto our land with the sheriff. He found nothing amiss. She claimed her “children’ had been frightened by the torches. They were teenagers. The same ones who almost shot us. Poor poor babies.

When the real estate agent found out, she was livid and they paid a little visit to the neighbors. I paid them a little visit also. 🙂

With that said……

Halloween on the range

Where the trick or treaters stay far away

No sweets handed out

Ain’t that what it’s about

No decs to put out on display

Halloween on the range

Where the generator stays on all day

Where we don’t decorate

None can see for God’s sake

What’s the point with the dust and decay

Halloween on the range

Where we tried to partake our own way

We lit up a torch

“Scared” the teens on their porch

Called the law trespassed our property

Halloween on the range

To us it’s just another day

Where we don’t celebrate

Cause who’d participate

We just wait for the next holiday

 

 

 

Ticks and Sticks

A theoretical game involving ticks.

We never officially came up with a set of rules but the concept sounded fun. We had plenty of participants. Ticks and Sticks. Us and them. About 100 billion of them it seemed.

I never saw a tick until we moved to eastern Washington and then I saw way too many. Usually I would catch them stumbling out of my hair line as if a lost soul finally finding their way out of the woods to a road or something. I always got the impression that they were grateful to have found their way off of my body but it happened at the most inopportune times.

I would be talking to someone casually and would feel something on my head moving. The person I’m talking to would look in horror at my hair as a tick would just casually crawl off of my scalp and onto my face and drop off of my body. I had one guy make a beeline with his fingers to my face and deftly snatch one off and he rushed to a sink and squished it then washed his hands. He wasn’t fazed and obviously had experience in these things. Imagine a first date and seeing a bug crawl out of your date’s hair? Social snafu.

It happened so often I began to see patterns. I swear to you that whenever I entered a place with fluorescent lighting, if one was there, it would become agitated and start moving. I even looked it up online but couldn’t find any documented verification that they didn’t like that kind of light.

To my knowledge, one never latched on. I know about the risks of these bites and that made me and my family nervous so we began to eat raw garlic every day. It may have helped but it’s hard to say.

They even invaded our little trailer and we were trying to figure out how they were getting in. We were trying to stay clear of all brush and were checking each other in addition to using repellent along with the garlic but there they were. We finally realized it was probably the cat. We dubbed him The Tick Bus and got some repellent for him too. People around town were saying that despite using tick repellent on their animals, the ticks would show up just the same.

Not having a lot of money the first year, we were trying to be creative and find ways to “play” outside as a family. We kicked balls around and used sticks for baseball, etc. and one day we were trying to come up with something original in a game. The idea came to me in a flash of inspiration; Ticks and Sticks. We had plenty of each on our property.

How would that game be played? Use your imagination.

They were the worst in spring and early summer and finally they went away for the most part only to be replaced by the scourge of yellow jackets. A really bad scourge this year from what we heard.

Thank God none of us experienced any consequences of the infestation and I hope next year we can be more proactive when tick season comes. I’m still wondering why I always caught them desperately trying to abandon ship rather than trying to latch on (gross).

They are ugly little nasty little things. What purpose could they possibly fill in the big scheme of things? I’m sure they have their place, just not on my head.

Goose On The Lose On Gold Creek Loop

Honkers

Posted To Local Facebook Group on Febrary 3rd, 2018……

“Goose on the loose on Gold Creek Loop.

Neighbors big white goose followed me and my husband up Gold Creek Loop about a mile from Corbett Creek road couple of weeks ago. He’s missing now. We thought he’d have the sense to return the whole half a block home but no, he seems to have upped and runned. We couldn’t turn back at the time and feel terrible. He might come to the name “Honkers” or message me if you know any thing.”

We met Honkers the first week after we moved in. He was a hefty white domestic goose with a lot of character. He seemed quirky like us and we quickly “adopted” him as the security system and gate guard.

He belonged to the neighbors who lived on the road going onto our property. You had to drive past their house on a common road to get to our gate. Honkers had a penchant for cutting us off while driving by and we had to start figuring in extra time when we left for the battle to pass. He came to know us and the sound of our truck and we were soon obligated to stop and say hi to him and a quick pet.

We were told by his owner that he had survived an attack by a predator and being hit by the owner’s vehicle. He would waddle up the dirt road next to my husband and they looked adorable together. I regret I can’t seem to find any pictures or videos of them.

Then one winter day, me and my husband were frantically trying to get our truck out of the long driveway, around the corner, and up the hill of the main road during a snow storm when Honkers waddled out. We were extremely stressed out and taking turns pushing the truck up the slick road but seeing Honkers was both funny and dismaying at the same time. He needed to go back.

By the time we got the truck to the top of the hill and hopped in, we didn’t have time to have one of us hop out and usher the goose back to the driveway just down the road. We thought he would have the sense to just turn around and go back home but he didn’t.

We’d like to think that Honkers found some other geese to fly away with but no one really knows as we never saw him again after that day. Miss you Honkers 🙂

Next: The Spring

Out of the Pot and Into the Frying Pan

How we got here and what happened afterward.

The following stories chronicle our family’s journey from suburbia to the edge of the modern frontier where we settled on raw land a couple of years ago.

From the first day on, I realized there was a lot to write about but being at the bottom of the pyramid of Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs delayed things a bit. I was too busy crying and trying to survive to write during that first year but here is our story; finally.

We are a married couple with a fifteen year old son and two cats. We were growing tired of the increasingly frenetic atmosphere of the Puget Sound region so we sold our house and headed east in search of wide open spaces more compatible with our nature. In the spring of 2017, we bought a twenty foot travel trailer and hit the road.

We camped in the national forest and anywhere else we were allowed for over three months as we cruised the real estate websites for property. In September we found a few acres of raw land in eastern Washington near the Idaho and Canadian borders that was just right. It was three miles away from the closest town and far far away from any major metropolitan area and came with no utilities.

Moving onto undeveloped land means you’re on your own. You are the engineer, construction worker and if something breaks, the repair person. Everything we used to take for granted has required forethought, planning and more often than not, exhausting physical labor in order to carry the project out.

For the first few months we got our water from the city standpipe but they close it in the winter. Luckily, we had discovered natural springs on our property which we dug by hand. For power we used a gas generator and installed solar.

We initially used WiFi for Internet but it became us vs the Google data pig.  The neighbors let us use their WiFi until we got into a fight and they changed their password.  We could only connect from my husband’s spot in our bed and only if it wasn’t raining. It eventually took downing three gargantuan trees to get Internet service to the property.

 Emotional and social adjustments were inevitable with such a big move.  Like the new extremes in the weather in eastern Washington as opposed to those of the moderate rain belt we moved from, the emotional highs and lows have been more extreme. Hotter summers and colder winters gave rise to newfound happiness and adventure which gave way to days and weeks of depression but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Our first weeks at our new home were fantastic. We were officially land owners and there was exploring to do but then winter came on fierce and with a seriousness that slapped all thoughts of anything but survival out of our consciousnesses. Our water pipes froze and our worldly possessions disappeared under three or four feet of snow. Some things we didn’t find until the spring melt.

Zero degree temperatures forced us to make the decision to relocate my son and I to an emergency shelter while my husband hunkered down at the property with our cats. Three months later, we moved back to the property and picked up where we left off; still struggling financially and with very little to work with.

Spring, then summer came with new challenges. We got a crash course on ticks and dealt with hordes of Yellow Jackets. The heat, and a continuing feeling of oppression made summer one of the longest I’ve ever experienced but we had things in the works.

We tilled rock-hard soil and planted a garden. We dug the spring and water delivery system. We used antiques we found buried on our land to construct things we needed such as the fence to our garden.  We did whatever we could to pass the time and keep our chins up.

Thank you to my husband for helping me to get through it all. When I was at my worst, he would hold my face in his hands, look at me and say “Good things Baby, good things”.

As fall arrived, our “eggs” began to hatch and we were finally able to make some huge changes to our living conditions and begin to build, literally and figuratively, the quality of our lives. We could stop trying to just survive and begin to live. 

We’ve accomplished a lot since fall. We now have a solar power system, generators, a large shed, an upgraded RV (we decided to put off building until spring), and other necessities. We have a fireplace to  sit by, a wood pile, larger propane tanks and other means for which to stay comfortable and dry for the winter. So far, so good as of January 2019.

We have lot’s of plans going forward. We are excited and ready.

I’ve edited this first post several times and didn’t want to give up my original bullet list outline so though it may be a little redundant, here it is:

  • We are a husband and wife with a teenager who sold their house in western Washington and moved to eastern Washington.
  • We have two cats and want a dog but not before we put up a fence.
  • We are not perfect. Far from it.
  • We don’t care that we are not perfect and we are known to swear but we are nice people (although one neighbor said we are evil).
  • We sold our house in May 2017
  • We lived in a trailer all summer while we looked for property
  • We found property we liked. It “spoke to” my husband 🙂
  • We moved onto the property and continued to live in the trailer
  • We had a major reality check as fall progressed
  • We weren’t very well prepared financially and some things happened that made it worse but things are better now 🙂
  • We made the best of things but winter sucked
  • Summer then sucked
  • Fall is here and we’re doing WAY better but some things still suck but most things DON’T suck anymore

I love humor and aspire to write in the style of Jean Sheppard of A Christmas Story fame. I’ve thrown in some of my weird poetry and hope you’ll enjoy the stories that follow.