Monday, 16 May 2011

Moose on The Mountain

If I'm not outdoors, I spend much of my time looking that way - Out The Window.... Which is how I spied this cow and calf-from-last-year. They had just come down the Prospect Mountain Trail from the Weber Path and were trying to sneak around the bridge to the pond munching on trees they had no business munching on, ie: weeping birch and sand cherry.

Without doing too much damage, they checked out The Cohos Trail Association Northern Headquarters sign before moving off down the driveway and across to The Border Trail disappearing as quickly as they had appeared.

The calf in the pond was more worried about the cats outdoors and the activity by the shed.

Still looking for those cats!

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Bark and Cakes

With another month or so to kill, I thought I'd get a jump on the Cohos Cache Game by creating camoflaged containers.  I wrote to Hydiseka for his bark formula that he uses for his famous Home Brew Game Cameras and he sent me explicit instructions on how to create your own waterproof flexible bark.

Excited like a two-year old, I sat down and spread the goo on then set it aside to dry for several days.

Well - that was too easy so I had to come up with something a little more time-consuming and messy.  Ah, Ha!-- let's make a rock with plaster-of-paris!.... so I gathered up some supplies, hauled a massive rock indoors for a mold, did some careful measuring and determined that the rock was too shallow on one end so I searched the porch for something that would at least resembled a rock in shape.   Nothing!....

Glad my mother doesn't live here, I reached up into the kitchen cupboard and took down a lightly used tupperware bowl and placed it into the middle of the table.  Now the directions say (paraphrased), 'to release your mold when the plaster-of-paris has dried, wet the mold ahead of time and presto, it'll come right out!' - So being careful to follow directions, I spread plaster first around the sides and then up over the top of the bowl, piling extra on top to create the rounded rock look - Then I stood back to critique -

After having six children that were constantly having birthdays year in and year out, I have made plenty of cakes from scratch, none of them close to gracing the covers of Better Housekeeping - But here I am with this gem of a 'cake' that is supposed to be a rock!

Ya, ya - I know - it's a little sloppy on top but my plaster was drying extra fast being so close to the woodstove.

So now what am I supposed to do with this?  It's bone-dry, the tupperware bowl is encased forever and it doesn't even remotely resemble a rock.

I let it set overnight and decided the next day to paint it green to blend in with the abundant grasses on the trails - found some green paint and plastered it....

Now that's some ugly green for grass..... maybe if I sponge some brown patches onto it?  Anybody out there have any suggestions what this can be used for?  I thought of an ATV helmet since I don't own one but I thought it might be too heavy and uncomfortable.......

Monday, 18 April 2011

Waterloo on Big Spencer Mountain - Maine

Bad Predicaments and I have been buddies since I can remember so when I was reflecting over my life today, June 21, 1987 came to mind as one of those ‘Well it wasn’t very funny at the time….’ moments.

I was married to the kids father and we were vacationing in Greenville, Maine - the southern metropolis of Moosehead Lake - staying at Jack’s Air Service in a tiny red camp on the lake. It was our wedding anniversary and we had spent the morning riding tote roads looking for moose and I knew the day was over at noon when the first six-pack was bought. We went back to camp and he settled into the ‘easy’ chair ready for an afternoon/evening of Nickelodeon and beer. Yippee! My kind of Anniversary!

I drifted down to the water with my six daughters in tow, played some Frisbee, chatted with Jack and Jane Hoffbauer and visited the hangars that stored Jack’s many ’toys’.

Around 2ish, I had a plan….and back into the camp we went….

…‘Well, if you want to just watch TV and drink beer, then why don’t I just take whichever kids want to go with me and we’ll go out moosin’ okay?’

By then, he was very relaxed and the three youngest- Lisa, Angela and Susan opted to stay and watch TV too, so case-closed, I left with the oldest three before the message reached his brain that he had just been suckered into the baby-sitter role for the evening - HA!

The Chevy Van we jumped into was a company vehicle and would seat multiple children so we piled in and headed northeast up the Lily Bay Road, past Lily Bay State Park, checked out the dump going down into Frenchtown for bear, then continued on past Kokadjo - up the dirt road to Sias Hill Checkpoint -down over Sias Hill 1-½ miles then took the left-hand dirt road just after Bear Brook, short of Ragged Lake.

Feeling overconfident and cocky from my newfound freedom with hours to kill, I drove through a deep beaver pond flooding the road and laughed with the kids - making the comment ‘we can drive through annnnny…thing….!!! Ha Ha Hee Hee…!!!

We came to a corner and a snowmobile trail/overgrown tote road to the left beckoned to us. Ah, why not - Looks solid enough…? If it gets bad then we just turn around, right? So up we went and everything remained fun for 5-6 miles.

Somewhere after passing abandoned shacks I made the comment that the ground just didn’t feel the same- 'don’t know what it is but it’s got that different feel to it, ya know?'….to which the kids replied ‘Oh Mom, we’ve been across a lot worse than this today’…so I kept going, against my better judgment. Whatever possesses parents to listen to kids 11, 10 & 8, I don’t know….

The road got visibly worse and I didn’t care if I was a hero anymore…we were now heading downhill with brooklets running along both left and right tire treads with larger rocks showing below.

Brakes ON…That’s It!-I’m backing up outta here even if I have to back all the way to the shacks - I’m Not going any further! So I jammed it into reverse - backed up 3-4 feet - spun out on a wide, flat rock - let off on the gas and slid right back down to where I was before. Oh, that was fun, let’s try it again!… By now my legs are shaking and hysteria wants to break loose but we must stay calm for the kids, right? - must stay calm for the kids….

Several more tries - same thing! Defeated, we piled out ready for the trek back to Sias Hill Checkpoint where I knew Mr. Brown would be until 11:00pm.

Now logic would dictate that if you came in a certain direction and you remembered where that was, then you should go back out the way you came in, right? Well, I don’t know if it was the fumes from the tires smokin' that effected my judgment but I took my dear children straight down over the hill, through the brooks, figuring that we would just do a big loop and come out onto our original road…..

After a mile or so, the road ended abruptly…no log-landing or anything…just no road - Nothing…. So we hit the woods losing elevation rapidly… after leveling out we came into a clear-cut loaded with slash, picked our way through - then came to a junction… oh oh - Now which way????? 'Shhhhh….let’s listen, maybe we can hear a vehicle out there'. .so we stopped to listen…..Nothing …just the sound of thousands and thousands of mosquitoes swarming… so we went right…

Another junction - by now it’s getting very dark…

'Right was a good choice last time, let’s do it again! The road feels more traveled though we can’t see it anymore - and that must’ve been a moose that just crashed through the woods into the bog, don‘t you think?'…. And what was that dark shadow off to your right, Lynn?…. Was that another moose, Jana?…

Well right about then we entered the beaver pond flooding the road and elation filled my soul - 'I KNOW WHERE WE ARE!!! We did It!!!…We’re on the Right Road!!!!' At that moment, a bullfrog croaked and hit my hand and I let out a screech that had been bottled up inside since the van got stuck… Jill came out of the water, landed on my back, choking me with one arm and whacking my head like a sulkie driver whipping his horse with her free hand…. Right then and there I knew that Jill was not going out of this world alone…Someone was going With her!

We reached the junction below Bear Brook thinking we were almost to checkpoint zero when headlights showed on the road behind. Ducking off into the campsite a station wagon pulled up beside and offered us a ride to the checkpoint. We gladly accepted and rode the 1-½ miles hanging off the open tailgate - (you could do those things back then!).

Mr. Brown was still at his guard post when I told him our story and he looked at his watch….

’Well, it’s 5 minutes ’ta ‘leven but you may be in luck - got a man and his son coming thru - should be here any minute - I reckon he'll give you a lift up in there to get your truck 'cause he owes me one!’

As if on cue, headlights came up from the south…

Dad was 60ish and son, 40ish - and both had driven a long way to escape insanity - they willingly loaded us into the back of their truck, giving the girls a drink of water and Mom a beer. I hate beer as a rule, but man, that tasted good.

They set the odometer per Mr. Brown’s request and we headed back up Big Spencer Mountain towards the scene of the crime.

Approaching the shacks the cap window was opened and they asked…’You sure you were out this far?’…in which I replied, feeling pretty stupid…‘Oh, I’m sure‘…. And I heard some laughter and ’Can you see Martha and Cindy out here ?…giggle, giggle, and more laughter over their private joke….

The headlights made out something big and red over the next knoll and I stared at it in disbelief…. I don’t know where I thought the van was going to go but I really didn’t expect it to be sitting there still - don’t know why - must’ve been fatigue or the beer taking its toll.

The son got out, jumped in the van and within minutes had it sliding across my flat rock….‘HA! - So you thought it was so easy, huh!’ I sputtered to myself!

…..Two more tries and the tires were smoking….

Couple more tries and….

‘Well if it had not been a company van I would’ve wailed on it’, I thought…

Dad and Son bade us farewell then led us back out to a way we knew all-too-well. At Sias Hill Dad told Mr. Brown ‘13.5-one way’, turned his truck and headed to parts unknown - We thanked Mr. Brown for keeping his post open then headed the 18 miles back to camp.

Dread permeated my soul as I walked through the door but I had rehearsed excuse after excuse ahead of time….12:45a.m.-the clock read…

‘Shhh‘…I said to the kids - ‘your father’s sleeping!’ as we slipped quietly off to bed with the TV still playing Nickelodeon in the background…..

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Plow Truck

In years past, springtime has always claimed certain sections of the road coming up the mountain.  Annually, a wallow appears in front of Wetherbee's and it gets quite squishy down at the corner by the campground - but the one thing that could always be counted on was bone-dry hills  - Not So this year!  Oh, the lower hill is fine but the top hill coming up into the yard is 2-3 feet of muck at it's shallowest and about 40-50 feet long.

Sam, our new Cohos Treasurer, decided to take a spin up from Tamworth to get the paraphenalia he needs to function as the new check writer, order fillerer, and financier.  When I talked to him a few days ago, the road was dry so I encouraged him to 'drive right on up! - your car should be fine!'....HA!

Around noon I decided to take the 4-wheeler down to make sure nothing bad had happened out there with the warm weather and rain.  Sam was due here at 2:00 and I knew he was already on the road.  The first trip through the mud with the quad went fairly well but I was a little leary of the way the whole ground just kinda rolled to the side like pancake batter.  But I never really sank through... I came back up and hung to the right, barely sinking at all so I decided I would put ribbon up through that spot directing him to the right of the sinkhole. 

I then went down to check the rest of the road and sure enough, in front of Wetherbee's, Little Fifth Connecticut Lake was forming.  Now What Do I Do?????

I opted to put all of Sam's boxes in the plow truck to meet him at Mo's BEFORE he attempted to drive up and that's what I did. 

Now the plow truck is considerably wider and heavier than my quad so I was barely 3 feet into the mud before the plow hit the ground in front and carved out a nice little dip.  Gravity was on my side so I gave it the gas and excavated part of Prospect Mountain, hauling it down a few dozen feet.

Sam met me at the bottom and the duties were passed - then he wished me luck with the return trip being ever-so-apologetic about causing me this problem !?!  SAM - Did You Put That Mud There????

I told him not to worry - if it got stuck, it got stuck - and I plugged off up the hill....

Brmmmmm..... up the first hill.... no problem..... slight fish-tailing....Lets go....up by Wetherbee's....whoops, took out some of the snowbanking - you can do it!..... rounded the corner (better give it some more gas!)  ....ruts are pulling the truck....brmmmmmm.........I'm now an off-road racer in the Can-Am - wrestling the truck, first this way, then that way.... Then I Hit The Real  MUD.... BOOM!.... All Fours sank and the frame hit the ground and that's all she wrote!  Couldn't get out the drivers side but climbed up to the passenger side working my way out  - then walked to the house.  Let someone else deal with it!

Yes, the truck is out !- It took a come-along strung from the rear-end to a tree and 3,000 - 4,000 rpms of mud flying - but it's out.  And Sam is officially our new Treasurer.  Congratulations Sam!

Groundhogs & Bears

  Found this photo of a groundhog with her you don't get much cuter than that!

The warm weather (50's) is waking the woods up and I saw one of Jeremy and Karrie's 'Pets' run for the woodpile yesterday. 

The bears are waking up although they aren't very active quite yet.  Friends are pulling their birdfeeders in and taking down the suet balls.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Maple Syrup Time at Covill's Sugar House

There's a rule of thumb with some of the long-time sappers up here and that is:  you don't sugar until the 21st of March no matter what the weather. 

Well this year the cold weather hung in there some extra days and the sugaring is actually just getting underway.  Gordon Covill and his brothers have all been collecting sap for more years than I've been around and one of the brothers, Edwin, comes from Montana or Michigan (think it's Montana) every year to help.

Used to be they hung out the buckets but last year and the year before they went to the tube system.  I noticed that they've gone back to the buckets this year and I couldn't help but wonder why.  Maybe the moose hauled the tubing down? 

Any ways, it won't be long until it's bottled up and on the shelves!

  Gordon Covill's Sugar House on Danforth Rd. Pittsburg, NH

Collecting buckets in the woods

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