Reality bites

Happy December!! Since we are celebrating six months, I guess now is as good a time as any to do our best to explain how we’re making out since La Nina left laughing at us…

We saw about 4 inches of snow just before Thanksgiving. It was pure magic. Brought in with a bang during a fierce lightening and hail storm at dusk, our world was suddenly transformed from a mild fall to an icy winter. (It just so happened to coincide with Ostaf deciding not to draft and filling the yurt with noxious smoke which made for a pretty dramatic turn of events.) We had finished most of the framing for the covered porch outside the yurt, but we didn’t have the  materials on hand to finish in time to beat the snow. No big deal as we were heading out to visit the family in Colorado for the next few days. We’ll make a supply run on the way home and finish up next weekend!

Best of intentions

Do they make Palmolive with anti-freeze?

Well, best laid plans… We enjoyed two nights and a super special Thanksgiving Day with loved ones under beautiful clear Durango skies, and then made the drive over Red Mountain. After stopping for a delicious brew and scrumptious nosh at the Horsefly in Montrose, we pulled into Gunnison just after dark on Friday. Saturday was just amazing as we gorged on breakfast at The W and then took a leisurely drive up Ohio Creek to spend some quality time with Mom and her dapper new hound dog. The whole day we listened to the weather reports calling for a big dump right on top of us, and right on schedule, the massive snow storm covers the SoCo/NoNm mountains on Saturday night before we are due to drive home Sunday. HOORAY!!

Running with the hounds up Ohio Creek

Radar spies The Castles

Snuggling with the best of ’em!!

Torn between riding out the flurries in Mom’s cozy loft and trying to make it back to Sahalee without incident, we decided to make a run for it after having a coveted home-cooked breakfast. Most of the drive was reasonably clear with good roads, until we hit the state line outside Antonito following the Cumbres y Toltec tracks to Chama. Chain laws were in effect for big trucks and the ice twinkled at us from between the yellow and white lines. (I should also tell you that we had a nice little moment of excitement when coming around the inside turn uphill when the rear end broke loose and we started to skid ever-so-gently towards the oncoming car going downhill- FUNNN!!) We had no choice but to stop at the bottom of the hill for a quick delicious bite at the landmark wood-heated Foster’s to calm our nerves before heading on to Cuba.

​Camping Gear & Food

There’s no better way to explore the great outdoors than by packing up a backpack and hitting your local hiking trail.

​​Carry enough food and water to see ​yourself through the​ entire trip.

Coming down the south side of La Manga (or Cumbres) Pass

It was dusk when we made the top of the drive. We again waffled on the plan of attack- Do we chain up and take our chances with getting stuck in the freezing mud after dark, or do we bunk at The Frontier again? We opted for the latter and tried not to call each other pussies all night. The next morning was a breeze making the drive up over the frozen crust and rediscovering our hideaway enrobed in winter. What a feeling to hike down through the snow to the yurt!! We really felt like true adventurers after conquering the mountains and arriving home safely. Then, reality hit.

The temperatures dropped significantly and the urine separator froze, so we can’t pee in the potty. (I haven’t even tried to compost the buckets of poop since it snowed, so that could be a real circus.) The water tank valve and hose froze, so we don’t have water available outside of the 35 gallons in jugs we reserved for emergency drinking rations before we left. The solar panels were covered in 4 inches of new snow after the storm, so we had to run the generator for most of the day to work on Monday. The yurt entry and trails around camp are all hazardous with compacted snow and ice covering the slopes. The chimney cap clogged up with soot yesterday, and so we went to bed without a fire last night after Ben chucked the burning wood out the door. It was 26 degrees outside and 36 degrees inside when we awoke. Oh! And, the dear little mice settled right in while we were away, leaving grains of rice in our bed as a welcome home gift!! Needless to say, we have been trying our best to manage the wildly-swinging emotional pendulum the past few days.

Um, how come the stove won’t draft?

I guess chimney sweeping is on the monthly maintenance list now

With more snow falling today (while we open the roof to clean the chimney cap), we are taking stock of our situation and quickly prioritizing our to-do’s to ensure we make it at least another 3 months up here before Spring arrives. The porch definitely needs to be finished, and we could surely use some more wood on the pile. The toilet needs to be fixed for certain, and we must remedy the water hose as quickly as possible. Ahhhh… Just another day in Paradise!! My sister used to have this magnet on her fridge…


I’ve never been a Bible devotee, but I always loved the verse and the majestic scene. It just occurred to me yesterday that the scripture was taken from the book of Job. In my 9th grade lit class, we studied Job as a character and opined on his trials and tribulations. My sister told me that the verse came from God while s/he was pissed. I thought, then, it was kind of sarcastic. She said it was like, “You don’t know shit… You don’t know the treasures.” I guess this is where we’re at… Finding the treasures while we endure the wrath. At least now we can break out the snowshoes!! Seems like Radar has it all figured out…


12 thoughts on “Reality bites

  1. Hey, Sue Bee!! We are definitely mud warriors right about now! 😉 I’m making plans for next year’s construction of flagstone/gravel/plank paths of some type for all the major thoroughfares here. Love the hay bale idea for the yard!! We do have some car supplies, just in case- Water, extra coats, kibble. We were thinking of painting the roof red on our white pickup just in case we landed in a snow drift! ;P Your super awesome care package made it- THANK YOU!!! The pics are terrific and the cookies are to die for. Seriously, some of the most delicious baked sweets we’ve ever had. I might be asking for recipes!! Radar loves her little chewies, too. 😉 BIG hugs, and I hope we can catch up soon… <3 <3 <3

  2. Hello Carey, How are you guys doing?? Winter is here and I see of your news your learning how to live the country -mountain life. I had a tremendous hate for mud! when living in the mountains in LaVeta. Mud is just so hared to navigate by auto or on foot. In spring I would buy bails of hay for our back yard so the dogs would have something dry in the spring. Do you guys pack a survival kit in your car? I had a duffel bag with flashlight extra battery’s dry food change of cloths … and dont forget a little bit of dry chow for your baby dog! I mailed a small box of cookies yesterday so let me know when you get them. Snow in the mountains and Co Springs nothing in Pueblo yet. ________________________________

  3. Thank you so much for reading and sending encouraging words, MLT!! 🙂 Most of our trials were expected but we are definitely learning a lot as time goes on. We’re hoping that our youthful exuberance (or stupidity) today will help us lay the foundation for a much easier time tomorrow. Too bad to hear about the lack of sun recently… Any breaks in the clouds yet? Even though we were trying to go 100% renewable up here, we’re very fortunate to have the generator on hand for such days. There’s more fun to come!! 😉

  4. I’ve never seen a more perfect snowflake than the ones we see here! <3 The stove is back in action and we're keeping plenty warm. Today is sunny and beautiful with temps in the low 40s. XOXO

  5. Your adventures are thrilling and the pictures of the snow are amazing. Just remember “where there is a will, there is a way”. Be safe y’all!

  6. Sounds like home to me! Next time your in Chama, stop and see my parents for some delicious green chili stew!

  7. It’s just magical sis, cold I know but so magical. So I guess you just don’t let the fire go out now? You guys are AMAZING!!! Good luck on your treasure hunt!

  8. Yikes! Didn’t hear about the issues with the chimney. Didn’t think that would happen. I couldn’t get the embedded video of Radar to work. Maybe it was Chrome.

  9. Welcome to the school of hard knocks. It’s nice to know that there are young folks out there who are willing to attend! Of course you very nearly have to be young to survive the classes 🙂 We went through some similar challenges when we started out, but over time everything got ironed out. Weather for us has been unseasonably warm, hovering near 0 Celsius for all of Oct and Nov. our problem this year is lack of sun, grey days, and more grey days. With solar power that’s a problem! Anyhow, slog on, seems like your doing a fine job… enjoying your blog.

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