Tuesday, November 30, 2010

City Slickers at the Chicken Dance Ranch - Lesson #3

Not only were we learning lots of lessons in dealing with sub-freezing temps, our dogs were trying to adapt as well.

Lesson #3 – Chihuahua dogs are not made for cold weather. Period.

We already knew our little Buddy, a Chihuahua mix pound puppy, was not a fan of cold weather. We had previous snow experience with him so we stocked up on sweaters, coats and other assorted doggie-wear to outfit him with some cold weather protection. He would be prepared.

Not even close. Two layers were insufficient for him to endure the below-freezing temperatures long enough to take care of his business. The coats and sweaters still exposed his thinly-furred belly and hind legs to the frosty blasts of air. He could only manage a quick yellowing of a snow drift before he’d stop dead in his tracks with a look on his face to “come pick me up!” He was too cold to move any farther.

We were getting worried that we’d have to find some place out of the wind, likely in town, where he could walk for a short period before being able to do his duty. We were ecstatic when after two days we had a break in the howling wind long enough for him to get ‘er done. And he quickly learned to run and sit in front of the woodstove immediately upon entering the house to warm his little doggie bones.

 Puh-leeze let me back in!

Do they make snowsuits with remote control flaps for dogs? That is what we really needed.

Jelly, even though she is a Chihuahua / beagle mix, is made of sterner stuff and was able to handle the colder weather much better than her adopted brother.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Construction Update - Walking the Planks

We got quite a bit done on the flooring last week although we didn't get it finished (no thanks to freezing pipes among other issues).

I am liking the pine laminate look. It's not real pine, but when on the budget building method, it gets the job done. And still looks rustic enough for a cabin-y look. The planks snap together and aside from a few cutting errors, we are working our way from one side of the house to the other.

Bill & Karl at the Starting Point
Bill Working on Living Room Floor
Guest Bedroom Done
Looking Down the Completed Hallway into the Master Bedroom
We still need to finish the dining room and kitchen and then we'll be ready to order and hang our interior doors. No more curtain for a bathroom "door". Hooray!

City Slickers at the Chicken Dance Ranch - Lesson #2

As the Arctic blast continued to plaque the Okanogan, valuable lessons were still being taught to us city slickers at the CDR.

Lesson #2: Saving paperwork when building a house is a good thing; even if you weren’t the original purchaser of some materials.

The day after our arrival at the CDR, Karl noticed one of our living room windows had a crack in the glass. Of course, it had to be the largest window. Upon further inspection, an eight inch long crack was snaking its way across the inside pane of glass. We put a piece of tape on it hoping to stop any further progression of the crack. That didn’t work. The crack continued to grow inch by inch. 

 This Place Cracks Me Up

We knew where the previous owner bought the windows so we stopped in to inquire about warranty coverage on the window. The windows are only about three years old. Yes, we were told. The window should be under warranty. I still have a sticker from one of the living room windows that we will take in to help find the original purchase date. Hopefully we will be able to get the window replaced at minimal or no expense to us.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Mellow Yellow Monday - 3 Fingered Jack's

Found on the side of 3 Fingered Jack's Saloon in Winthrop, WA.

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City Slickers at the Chicken Dance Ranch - Lesson #1

Winter came early to the Chicken Dance Ranch this year. While this was not our first Thanksgiving at the ranch, it was our first real experience with a fully built house and bitter cold temperatures that occasionally beset the Okanogan. I don’t consider us true city slickers. I mean, we have lots of camping and outdoors experience. But we certainly are from suburbia and life in the boondocks required more from us than we were initially prepared for.

With outdoor temperatures staying below the freezing mark and an arctic air mass that roared down out of Canada, we learned several important lessons on how cold it can really get here at the CDR.
Lesson #1: Water pipes can and will freeze, even when you think you’ve got them protected.

The way our water pipes were run in the crawl space of the house left them exposed in some areas. One of our first orders of business upon arrival at the CDR was to install a layer of insulation over them. Then we built a little room out of plastic sheeting around the booster pump and put a radiant oil heater inside of it. We also made sure our foundation vents were closed. We were prepared. Or so we thought. 
 Protecting the Booster Pump and Water Pipes

Outside temperatures kept dropping over the course of several days into single digits. Factoring in wind chill, it was easily below zero degrees Fahrenheit.

We awoke one morning with our kitchen pipes frozen. The kitchen is on the north wall and the chilling wind was battering the north side of the house. Even with the extra insulation layer, somewhere the pipes froze. Our best guess was near the outside wall, even though the pipes are not in the wall itself and are nestled in thick insulation up under the floor joists. It didn’t help that our foundation vents kept blowing open and the air intake ducting for the woodstove is nearby.

After adding heat tape to the pipes (which in itself took three attempts) and new foam blocks to stuff in the foundation vents, the water was free-flowing. Cross your fingers they stay that way throughout the winter months.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Weekend Reflections - Winglet

The joys of having a window seat.

Boeing 737 Winglet

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Love / Hate Relationship

Today's show is brought to you by Jelly, the Dog, and Baby Girl, the Cat. Friends or Foes?

 Jelly: "Hey Cat! Where do you think you're going?"

Baby Girl: "If I ignore the dog, maybe she'll go away."

 Jelly: "Mom! She's touching me!!"

Baby Girl: "What is that dog's problem? I just want to be friends."

Friday, November 19, 2010

Weekend Reflections - Surfs Up

You've seen the t-shirts, now see the one of a kind flagship store.

Ron Jon Surf Shop - Cocoa Beach, Florida

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Skywatch Friday - Cocoa Beach Sunrise

Welcome to the Beach

Heading to Work

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Coastal Birding

I admit it. I have a lot to learn about photographing birds. Flighty little devils. But I gave it a couple of attempts while in Florida.

On the morning I watched the sunrise from the beach, I was entertained by pods of pelicans flying overhead, ready to begin their day. They would come in over the dunes and then glide low over the water, their wingtips almost touching.

Winging Across the Surf
Then on my way into the office, I pulled off the highway onto one of the access points along the Banana River. Fishermen were working on getting their day's catch. Another kind of fisherman, an osprey, was on the hunt for his breakfast.

Go Fish?

On the day I drove up to Kennedy Space Center, I passed a road that was marked as a birding trail. I'll put that on my list to do the next time I return.

Monday, November 15, 2010

On the Bucket List

Space flight has always been an interest to me. As a kid, I had the opportunity to visit the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. With the trip to Florida this past week, I was 10 miles from the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center with no time available to go visit. Talk about agony!

During my lunch break on one of the days, I took my rental car for a little spin to go get something to eat. Hmmm...it took me to the KSC Visitor Center first! I still didn't have time to stop and go in, but you can be sure on a future trip, it is on my agenda.

Shuttle External Fuel Tank with Solid Rocket Boosters Attached
Crossing the Banana River bridge from Cocoa Beach to Merritt Island, you can see NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). According to Wikipedia, the VAB is the largest single story building and fourth largest building by volume in the world. It is here where the space shuttle and external fuel tanks are mated together before the shuttle is moved to the launch pad. All I know is that is was a large building and I wasn't all that close from where I could see it.

NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Mellow Yellow Monday - Cruisin' from Canaveral

Heading east from the Orlando area, you go through Port Canaveral to get to Cocoa Beach. Port Canaveral is the homeport for Disney, Carnival, Royal Carribean and Norwegian cruise lines.

When I first came into town, it was early evening and a big behemoth was docked and all lit up. Not being familiar with the area, I was not willing to pull over and try to take a picture. I thought, no problem, I'll try to do it next morning on the way to work.

Just goes to show what I know about cruising. That boat had sailed by the next morning.

The day after that, I scored. I was heading to the office and lo and behold, not one but two giants were docked. I found a place to park and starting snapping away.

Looking Across the Water

Carnival Sensation's Yellow Slide

Disney Wonder's Yellow Life Boats
Disney Smoke Stacks

If those cruise ships just arrived in port, that meant people were disembarking. Lots of people. Two ships worth of people. And those people probably needed to go to the airport and catch flights to back home.

Yes, that is what it meant. The airport in Orlando was crazy later that afternoon. Note to self: do not book travel out of Orlando on days cruise ships return to port.

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

I Dream of Jeannie

This past week, I traveled to Florida on business and stayed in Cocoa Beach. If you were growing up in the 60's, one of the shows on TV was "I Dream of Jeannie", starring Barbara Eden as Jeannie, the genie, and Larry Hagman as Major Nelson, an astronaut who finds her bottle and subsequently becomes her master. Major Nelson worked at Cape Kennedy and lived in Cocoa Beach.

In July 1996, the town of Cocoa Beach presented Barbara Eden with a street sign - "I Dream of Jeannie Lane". It was later installed on a short street off A1A.

Once I saw there was a street with this name, I had to go find it. Luckily it was not too far from my hotel.

While Cocoa Beach may have been the setting the Nelson home, many of the shots in the TV show had hills nearby. If you've ever been to Cocoa Beach, about the highest point is a bridge over the water. It is flat as a pancake. The house used in filming was actually at the Columbia Ranch site in California and those hills were the Hollywood Hills. Click on the link for the ranch to see more information on the house. Not only was it home to Major Nelson, it was also the home of Mr. Wilson from "Dennis the Menace", and the Andersons from "Father Knows Best", just to name a few.

I'll have more pictures from the Cocoa Beach area this week.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Weekend Reflections - The Okanogan River

Okanogan River in Okanogan, WA - November 7, 2010

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Skywatch Friday - Looking Back

Coming west on Highway 20 @ Washington Pass, as you reach the top of the hairpin turn you can look back down into the valley you just traversed. On this day, we drove through rain and then a light snow as we reached the top of the pass. Yet there were patches of blue sky to be seen.

Washington Pass

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Oh, Deer Me!

Deer in the Methow (Met-how) Valley can be one of those four-letter words. The population is quite prolific and deer vs. vehicle is no laughing matter. So much so that warning signs abound as you drive through.

The saying is there are two kinds of people in the Methow. Those who have hit deer and those who are going to.

At dusk, it is best to slow down to the posted speed limit. This summer especially we have had several close calls. We try to be vigilant as we journey through the valley as I don't want to join the first group above.

I also don't want to become #209.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Eagles Have Landed

The return of the steelhead trout and salmon in the Okanogan River also means the return of the eagles. While I see an occasional eagle during the summer months, they are definitely more prevalent once the fish return to the river to spawn.

These four magnificent creatures were only about 100 yards apart just south of Malott where I picked Karl up after he spent the day on the river.

Look Closely for 2 in this Shot

Monday, November 8, 2010

What's Cooking?

Now we're cooking with fire! After several weeks of waiting for the stove to arrive due to back orders and scheduling conflicts, and then another week waiting for a special order part to come in, and then yet another trip to town for one more gas line part, the stove was installed yesterday. And it works! I can't believe I am excited about a stove. Guess this means I don't have any excuses to eat out, huh?

No More Waiting for Whirlpool

Notice I'm bucking the stainless trend, too. My current stainless stove has a black top. It is impossible to keep clean. So never again will I have a stove with a black top. I don't care how trendy it is.

Thanks go out to our neighbors, Robert & Amanda. They helped out with our delivery issue.