Cabin, February 2011

Panorama of the cabin.

Panorama of the Cabin. A tiff of the image (9MB) can also be downloaded.

We were not able to make it to the Cabin during out usual time over the Christmas holidays, however, we were fortunately able to go up later for a quick trip. It started out cold with a lot of snow on the ground. It was more like some of our earlier winter trips except that we mostly know what we are doing now so things mostly went smoothly.

February 9

I left Cleveland and drove to Detroit to pick up Bill. Vittoria had to stay with Frankie so could not attend. We left Detroit around 9:00PM heading north. Jon and Amelia left Kalamazoo around 9:45PM. The drive up was uneventful until we got to Grayling where there was a some snow falling and a lot of it blowing around. On the trip the low temperature we saw was -6°F. We stopped in Gaylord at 12:30AM where Bill and I picked a "classy" motel (aka dive) to stop at for the night. It even had a "magic fingers" but, to Bill's dismay, it didn't work. The heat wasn't on in the place and it took quite awhile for it to heat up. We saw it as preparation for the cabin though when Jon and Amelia arrived at 1:30AM they didn't see it the same way. Regardless, we slept there and got up around 7:30AM the next morning.

February 10

Following breakfast and some shopping to pick up a few things we needed we were back on the road by 9:30AM. The rest of the drive up was also pretty uneventful. As usual we didn't hit the big snow areas until we got north of M-28. We arrived in Grand Marais around 12:30PM. We had called ahead about parking in our "usual" spot in town but it hadn't been plowed. Bill talked to Mike at Superior Hardware who let us park in a lot he owns on Airport Road right off M-77. This is an ideal location for us since it gives us easy access to the snowmobile path into the cabin without having to go into town. It made getting in and out much easier for us. (Thanks Mike!)

We were able to load up and get all of our gear in on one trip. On the way in we were stopped at the turn from Airport Road onto Old Seney Road by some "snowmobile cops". Jon hadn't put the trail passes on the snowmobiles and they picked up on that immediately. Fortunately Jon had the tags so we put them on, had a little chat with them, and got on our way. The trails were in good shape and well groomed. The driveway into the cabin, however, was full of deep powder so we had to go back to the old way of doing things, snowshoeing a path in first.

After the path was walked I did the first stupid thing. Bill went up the trail to turn the snowmobile around to make it easier to get in (a straight shot instead of having to turn and try to pick up speed). I did the same thing. Unfortunately I got the snowmobile stuck and buried pretty well. After detaching the sled and trying to get the snowmobile out I gave up and walked back to the cabin. It was a short trip but walking without snowshoes on the driveway into the cabin was hard even though it had been snowshoed and driven over by one snowmobile. Arriving back at the cabin the other snowmobile was stuck so we spent some time getting it out. After finally doing that Bill and I headed back out to the snowmobile I had gotten stuck. On the way we got the snowmobile stuck again and had to pull it out. This was all very hard work given the deep, soft snow. Finally we got out to the main trail and headed for the abandoned snowmobile.

When we arrived we found that someone else had already pulled it out!! We had heard some snowmobile reving its engine while we were unpacking/getting the other snowmobile unstuck. We don't know who did this but I am certainly grateful to them; I was not looking forward to getting it unstuck. This made our life much easier. I drove it back to the cabin. The place where we had gotten stuck in the driveway on our way out was pretty torn up. I tried to get through it but veered off to the side and got stuck again. By this time I had finally wised up and did not bury the snowmobile trying to drive it out. Instead Bill and I easily moved it over and the rest of the trip was easy.

Back of Cabin with snow on the picnic table. Outhouse with a snowshoed path to it.

We were pretty worn out by the trials of getting in but we still had the cabin to open up. The gas was easy now that we buried the gas line and moved the tanks to their own shed. It took the gas longer to start flowing and it was cold so the lights were hard to turn on. Even so, this made things somewhat easier for us. We had to snowshoe paths to all the places we needed to get and dig out the doors. The fires were started and the cabin did heat up pretty quickly given everything. The roof put on during Gentlemen's Weekend did its job and kept the cabin warm and dry, though we did find a few places where we were still getting water dripping on the logs as the snow melted on the roof.

The "tunnel" dug to the outhouse. The storage shed. The fine parking job of the snowmobile. The kitchen entrance to the cabin. The snow on the roof and piled on the fireplace chimney.

As noted the snow was deeper than we have had the past few years. I dug a "tunnel" to the outhouse to make getting there easier. Next time someone complains about "too much" snow just remember that it could always be worse.

After a shot of Krupnik, moving in all the gear, and getting the cabin set up it was time to play some Euchre and have Gin and Tonic slushies. No one seemed to complain about the Euchre (imagine that). We were all pretty tired and slept reasonably well that night.

February 11

Bill snowshoeing along McCloud Grade. Snowshoeing along McCloud Grade.Amelia and Jon in the distance. Snowshoeing along McCloud Grade.Amelia and Jon fixing snowshoes. Amelia and Jon snowshoeing along McCloud Grade. Frozen river near the Lucky Buck camp. Frozen river near the Lucky Buck camp. Bill, Jon, and Amelia resting near the Lucky Buck camp. Bill, Amelia, and Jon snowshoeing back along McCloud Grade. Bill, Amelia, and Jon snowshoeing back along McCloud Grade. The pristine path of "the Loop". My old style snowshoe that was great for walking in the deep, powdery snow. The path along "the Loop". The swamp behind the cabin. The swamp behind the cabin. Pine tree where the water comes back up from the beaver dam. River running through the swamp behind the cabin. Bill, Amelia, and Jon taking a short break in the snowshoeing. Scenery along "the Loop". Scenery along "the Loop". Bill navigating around a pine tree that had fallen across the two-track road that makes up "the Loop". River next to the cabin. River next to the cabin.

We got up at a reasonable time in the morning and decided to do a little snowshoeing before breakfast. We started on a quick trip to the Lucky Buck. Someone has ridden McCloud grade so there was a good base to walk on. This made the trip pleasant. The sky was sunny and the scenery beautiful.

Since this trip wasn't so bad we decided to put off breakfast to brunch and come back along "the Loop". The loop had not been ridden so it was backwoods snowshoeing for us. This is one time my old style snowshoes work well. Their large size means I don't sink in too much, particularly when walking through deep powder. Because of this I took the lead to blaze the trail. The trip was very nice but a lot of work. The scenery behind the cabin with the snow covered trees and the water is always wonderful to behold. The trip to the beaver dam was the short leg of the trip. We decided to finish the loop. This was a lot of work. Along the way we found a place where a large pine tree had fallen over the road. This must have happened within the past few months.

Bill making one of his huge breakfasts on the builtin griddle on the stove.

On returning back it was well past brunch but Bill was not thwarted. He wanted breakfast food and he made breakfast food. Quite a bit of it in fact.

After lunch we sat down to a game of dominoes. For the first time in ages we completed a full game of dominoes (I won), from double fifteens to double zeros. Everyone even played nice, no dominoes ended on the floor, no one complained, .....

Jon skiing along "the Loop". River behind the cabin. Water coming out under the pine tree. Jon skiiing along "the Loop". River behind the cabin. Jon skiing along "the Loop".

After the dominoes game Amelia took a nap, Bill did some reading, and Jon and I went out for another short trip. This time we went out cross country skiing around the loop. Since we had snowshoed the trail around the loop we had created a solid base on which to ski. We took a quick trip around the loop again enjoying the scenery.

Frozen beaver pond next to the cabin. The river downstream of the beaver dam near the cabin. The river next to the cabin. The swamp behind the cabin. A lone cattail in the swamp behind the cabin. The swamp behind the cabin.

On our return from the ski trip I did a little extra exploring around the cabin. I visited the beaver dam/pond right near the cabin and continued on to the river/swap nearby. As always in the winter it is easier to get around back there and more enjoyable.

Jon, Bill, and Amelia sitting down to dinner.

That evening we had a typical exceptional cabin dinner. This one included a medley of root vegetables, pork, and tofurkey. After dinner we played our first game of Carcassonne (Amelia won). This game included all the expansion sets except the towers. This game went reasonably well. There wasn't too much complaining, anyone wanting to quit, anyone wanting to go to bed, ....

February 12

Amelia and Jon getting ready to snowmobile into town. Amelia and Jon ready to snowmobile into town.

The next day started more slowly. There was more euchre played and plenty of relaxing. Jon and Amelia decided to head into town with the snowmobiles. The trails in the woods were groomed and in great shape but the trail around town was pretty rough. Part of the difficulty of going into town on the snowmobiles is having to take this well traveled round-about way in.

Bill knocking some of the ice dams off the cabin. Bill knocking some ice dams off the cabin. Water flowing freely after some ice dams removed.

Bill and I first did some inspecting/cleaning of the cabin. This was the first time we could carefully check how the new roof we put on during gentlemen's weekend was working. In particular the overhang on the front of the cabin was extended to try to protect the main chimney (which will be rebuilt at some point). For the most part things were in good shape. There were a few places where water was getting where it didn't belong. This included near the chimney and in the corner between the bunk room and the kitchen. The flashing in these areas will have to be adjusted. Otherwise we were happy with the results. We knocked ice dams off the eaves and watched the water flow down.

Scenery behind the cabin.Bill in the distance. Small pine tree in the snow behind the cabin. Fallen log bridging the river behind the cabin. Small pool formed whena large tree fell pulling up its roots (on the right). Bill on snowshoes overlooking the river behind the cabin. Bill on snowshoes overlooking the river behind the cabin. The river behind the cabin. The river behind the cabin. Bill getting a little reading done. Bill getting a little reading done.

Following the maintenance work Bill and I went on a back country snowshoeing excursion behind the cabin. The path we followed was markedly not JPO'Brien™ approved. We wandered through the swamp, over the river, through the swamp some more, over the river again, multiple times. The cold weather and deep snow made the trip safe. No one ended up going swimming. The scenery was stunning.

On return Bill spent a little time relaxing in a rocking chair and doing some reading ... outside. The weather was very nice. It had warmed up making it pleasant to sit outside. Jon and Amelia returned from town shortly after this so not much reading was done.

Jon, Bill, and Amelia studying the Carcassonne game (played with all the expansion sets we have). Bill and Amelia laying out the feast of meatballs and lasagne. Bill, Amelia, and Craig at dinner.

The time had come for our epic Carcassonne game including all of the expansion sets. This is the first time we used them all. Following our first game we had developed a procedure to speed up the game by having people pick their tiles early and think about their moves early. This helped a lot to keep the game moving without people complaining, wanting to quit, .... In the end everyone enjoyed the game and I think would be willing to play with all the expansion sets again.

Once again we had an epic dinner. This time including lasagna and meatballs. Afterwards it was more euchre (detecting a trend here)?

February 13

Bill, Amelia, and Jon getting ready for a last snowshoeing trip. Amelia and Jon on the large beaver dam. Amelia and Jon on the large beaver dam.

Our last day at the cabin began as the others. We got up at a reasonable time and had a large breakfast (Bill was at it again). We began cleaning up the cabin, packing gear, etc. Before departing we took another quick trip around the loop. By now the path was easy to traverse. Since it had warmed up we saw tracks of a few animals that had been moving around. Only small animals like chipmunks and rabbits.

Bill, Jon, and Amelia preparing to leave with all the gear packed in the sleds. Snowmobiles loaded on the trailers and being secured by Jon and Bill. The snowmobiles all set for the drive back home.

Finally we came back, finished closing up the cabin, and packed up the gear. As always getting out is easier than getting in. Without all the food we easily fit all the gear on the sleds and drove back to the cars. Since they were parked so conveniently we were able to drive right up to them, unload, and get the snowmobiles on the trailer.

The drive back was uneventful. There was no weather to speak of. In fact, it had warmed up quite a bit. On the way back we saw temperatures of 45°F, about 50°F higher than when we drove up just a few days before!

As usual it was a great, relaxing trip. Despite the fact that Jon worked too much (as always) there was a lot of snow and since we went a little later in the season the sun set noticeably later than over Christmas break.

Despite the not so veiled comments above targeted at Vittoria her presence was missed. We look forward to another trip up next winter this time with Vittoria.

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