Friday, January 30, 2009

Snow continues

Huge flakes were falling this morning as I wondered how much snow we would be getting today. It has snowed everyday for three days now and the snowplow guy is starting to get tired of it. Unfortunately, it is only January and we have some of our bigger snows in February and March.
You can see from the pictures the snow between the house and the garage has piled up to about four feet in some places. This makes for a steep climb as you come out of the porch to get to the burn barrel and compost pit. When the snow slides off the roof it is going to be even higher.

I am not sure if this is a record amount of snow, but the snow isn't melting much between snows with the cold temperatures so it is piling up more and more. I am glad the road is being plowed now. It is nice knowing we can get out in a car and it gives me and the dogs a place to walk that isn't so deeply covered in snow.
Last weekend turned out to be a rough one for snowmobilers staying at a cabin next to us. One of them ran his snowmobile over the edge down about a hundred feet in the dark. He thinks he hit a few trees on the way down. He said he hit a patch of ice and before he knew it he was down. His buddies didn't see him go off and went past him once until he was able to climb to the top of the hill on to the road. The next day they came here to tell me they had tried to go down the road(unplowed) toward Cedar Run and now had their truck stuck. We called a tow truck for them and I noticed the guy who went over the mountain looked pretty sore. I am sure he felt it worse once he got home. I don't know how much the tow was but I am sure it wasn't cheap.
It is possible to drive on the unplowed roads, but you must be very careful to stay on the part the snowmobiles pack down which is usually only a car width wide. If you get off of this you imediately sink and find out just how deep the snow really is. I tempted fate once this year and have no plans of doing it again so I am just not driving on anything risky. If you want to come up stick to the plowed roads or snowmobile on the unplowed roads. Looks like more snow in the forecast and I will keep you updated. Mountain girl, Paula, logging out and digging out.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Snow Leetonia Style

The Forestry Department stays busy when it snows in the State Forest. Last night in the late hours of the night, flashing lights went by the cabin. I looked out to see the bigger blue snowmobile groomer going by on the road, getting ready for the weekend.

The groomers even out the snow nice and smooth after the snowmobilers churn it up into mounds. When we have a big weekend of people up it never seems to stay smooth long. The biting cleats of the high powered snowmobiles dig the snow into
piles, until it is like going through a rough sea.

Before the road was plowed, I remember literally feeling beat up inside my car as it plunged up and down over the mounds of snow. Sometimes these mounds get a foot and a half or more high. My neighbor after snowmobiling his groceries home one day found he had scrambled eggs by the time he arrived home. I know I never filled the gas cans full because they would slosh out and make a mess. I was lucky to get 4 gallons in a 5 gallon container.
Now with the roads plowed that issue is over. We have to be careful not to run into any of the speeding snowmobilers who easily forget a car might be on the road with them. I have had horrible thoughts of ever hitting one for the damage would certainly be the worst to the snowmobiler.

The brief visit of above freezing weather lasted for only a day and we have again returned to the teens and single digits. It however was a beautiful sunny day and the snowmobilers were having a great time playing in the snow. Mountain girl, Paula, logging off and putting another log on the fire.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Snow cold and ice

Scooter is the only one that seems thrilled with the snow. No matter how cold it is he runs his head through the deep snow like a bulldozer until he looks like a frosted dog.
The extreme cold has caused considerable ice build up on the front of our roof something that rarely happens since it is facing the sun. The ice does a lot of damage to roofs this time of year and I am glad I do not have gutters on the edge that is icing. Gutters just help push the ice under the shingles.
It warmed up into the twenties and feels like a heat wave. We are still getting some below zero temperatures at night. The cold has taken a toll on my firewood supply. I have been hunting for a source of seasoned firewood as it looks like we will be about a cord short. We always have the option of burning our green wood but that will not make much heat.
The last picture I took going over the top of Cedar Mountain after a fresh snow. The trees always look so pretty. When the sun comes out the trees will hurl balls of snow down quickly and you almost feel like you are in a snowball fight with them. The sudden snowballs even startle the dogs, they think something is in those trees. Sometimes they would be right as a squirrel would dart across dropping even more snow from the branches. Only in a quiet place like Leetonia can the trees be heard throwing snowballs.
For anyone coming up the roads are tricky anywhere it isn't plowed with about a foot of packed and loose snow on them. Don't try it without four-wheel drive. Better yet stay on the plowed roads and snowmobile back. Mountain girl, Paula, logging out.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

-23 Sets record for Leetonia

I spent the night sleeping near the fireplace keeping it stoked with wood. We have never seen temperatures this low since we have been here. The puppy appreciated the company all night and huddled close to me under the covers adding a sort of doggie heated blanket effect. I ran the faucet on low last night and thankfully had no frozen pipes to deal with this morning. It was so cold the back door was frozen to the frame and had to be popped open. The truck grudgingly turned over acting like it had ice for pistons. I had to let it warm up for fifteen minutes just to drive it a quarter mile down the road. Such is the harshness of an Arctic Blast in the mountains.

What amazed me was the number of people who braved the cold to snowmobile. They all looked like human marshmallows bundled up with so many layers. Tomorrow promises to get into the mid twenties and I can tell you it will feel like a heat wave to go up forty degrees from our current temperatures. The dogs missed their walk today since this kind of cold makes their feet bleed if they walk to far on the icy ground. They went out only long enough to do their business and were happy to come back in to the fire.

I finished some work in a heated area today and was glad to have something to do other than outdoors. Since my work was close I walked the quarter mile home for lunch and that was enough outdoor activity to satisfy me. Mountain girl, Paula, logging out and staying warm.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Frigid Blast covers area

It's hard to take a picture of really cold, but it got down to -13 last night, a new record for us since we have been up here. It is the kind of cold that makes the snow squeak and your nose burn when you breathe in the air. For the two pit bulls it is pure hell, they got out long enough to do their business and run back in limping from paw to paw. Scooter seems less affected by the cold and shows much more willingness to venture out for a time.

Since it snowed the snowmobilers are up in full force for the weekend, but I have to say it doesn't look like fun raising the wind chill on your body in this bone chilling weather. I prefer to stick to the fireplace for my fun. We will use twice the firewood at this temperature then when it is at 30. I am hoping this weather doesn't last long as I watch our firewood stock quickly deplete on days like this. Mountain girl, Paula, trying to stay warm in Leetonia.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Snow and the Gas Drilling

The first three pictures show you the snow we got Saturday night. It took us several hours of digging, scraping, and driving to finally make it around the mountain to our work site.
The snowmobile looks like it is waiting for a chance to get out from under its covers and run. This is usually the time of year we wonder why? Why do we stay up here and struggle to do anything? Going anywhere requires at least 4 hours and walking is difficult.

Then when you drive through the forest and see how beautiful it is in a fresh covering of snow and how quiet it is, you know. It is easy to come under the spell of Leetonia in the winter and become a hermit. The desire to do anything leaves you and the warm fire begs you to stare at it and feed it logs. The unfortunate thing is bills must be paid and money made. So you force yourself up and into the tasks ahead for the day.

As we drove out of the woods, we spotted one of the Gas well explorers running cable for miles back and forth across the road. These cables go to sensors which pick up the vibrations sent by the heavy machines you see in the pictures. These machines slam the earth with heavy metal plates mounted in the middle of them. This makes a vibration which is picked up and interpreted by the technicians to determine the best place to drill for natural gas.

They also use a helicopter that has a sonic device which swings below it about a hundred feet or so providing shock waves towards
the ground sensors. I was shocked to see the helicopter out in the snowstorm Saturday. You could barely make out the helicopter in the white-out snow conditions. I can't imagine that it is very safe to fly in under those conditions. There is a lot of money involved in gas wells right now and it is probably one of the few things helping the local economy out a bit. Mountain girl, Paula, logging out and getting ready for work.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Good time for a Break

It is snowing again today after a little ice storm the other night. I hadn't seen the plow for a week when I received a call from Lee Stover saying the plow truck's clutch was broken and they were having a hard time getting another one. He only has a regular size truck with a plow to replace it and that doesn't have any way to spread cinders; so the road waits and gets increasingly more snow covered. However sometimes when the snow freezes just right on the ice it gives you a little grip so it is not as slippery. For now I am choosing to stay put since Lee is gone to visit relatives in Erie. Our safety line has always been having at least one person know where we are supposed to be so if
we don't show up people know where to look.

When I had my accident, I had called Lee before I left the cabin to come home, something I don't usually do in the summer months, but now looking back on it realize how knowing that gave me a better chance of being found if I would not have been able to get out myself.

Thor is pretty much healed up after needing two trips to the vet to remove various quills from his original accident almost two months ago. It is amazing how they can move around in a dog's body so long, then abscess and pop up. The last one popped up in his lower eyelid dangerously close to his eye. I think the vet's office is his second home and they all love him.
As you can see he has no problem challenging Scooter to a tug of war. The looser in this game was the toy. Thor is very careful to gradually pull the toy away from Scooter, since Scooter can be a little possessive of his toys. Thor kept a small amount of pressure on the toy and when Scooter forgot about him and let go...he slowly took the toy away. It is the first time I have seen Scooter defeated in this game. I took a picture of Thor holding the prize proudly, but it was too blurry to share.

Thor may have three legs but he is definitely not handicapped. He keeps up with the other dogs on walks and runs up and down the mountain like a goat. Yesterday coming down a steep hill his back leg went into a snow covered ditch. He slid across the road on his belly and not missing a beat got his rear leg under him and caught up with us. He didn't whine or lay down and give up. He acts like he has four legs, but his fourth leg is magical and never gets caught in a snow bank. Much of the time he does act more mature than I would expect a eight month old dog to act, but when he chews things up and roughs up Leo, he is quick to remind me of his age. I don't treat him any differently than my other dogs except for the occasional help he needs getting in and out of the vehicle.

The roads are four-wheel drive only and have chains with you for bad spots. It is around 25 and windy today. The dogs are taking me out for a walk so I stay in shape during this bad weather. Mountain girl, Paula, logging out, and putting spikes on my boots to walk.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Of Mice and Ice

A family of mice came into my life. They were created by Jo Ann Kintz who with her husband spends much of their summers at Petticoat Junction Campground in Cedar Run. They are made from dried tops of thistle plants she found along the old Railroad now a Bike Path.

Sometimes it is simple things like this that remind me of the way in which people create their own joy with very little. The materials for the most part other than the pins for eyes and some glue were supplied free by Mother Nature. The children of Leetonia certainly had toys so similar to spark their imagination.

As you look at them you wonder what kind of journeys these thistle top mice are having. Are the father and mother mice happy? What does the baby mouse do for fun? Is there danger out their lurking around every corner? Yes, I see them as a child would see them playing in the dirt and tall weeds; the baby mouse trying to get a drink from the stream and perhaps falling in and being swept away in a great adventure saved in some miraculous way. Jo Ann told me to put them in my Christmas tree as decorations, but they seem too alive to rest merely on a branch. Instead they spawn stories to tell children and give me time to put life into perspective.

Perspective is needed in the winter when everything seems to take more effort. I turned the faucet on today and it slowed to a stop indicating frozen pipes.To fix this requires a trip to the cellar with the hair dryer and extension cord to thaw out a line. Our cellar is my least favorite place because to get to it you must take things out of the closet and open a trap door and climb into the belly of the house. There are always dead mice and in the summer, live snakes, to greet you. It is dark and damp and today frozen. After several minutes blowing warm air around the pipe the problem the ice broke up and the reason for it soon discovered. I noticed that one of the heat tapes did not get plugged in that go to the well. With our line a mere two foot below ground it doesn’t take long to freeze the water line. .

I forgot to mention the faucet I turned on was the shower faucet and of course I didn’t turn it on until I was ready for a shower, which meant getting dressed to fix the problem. Now you see why Thistle Mice bring my thoughts back into perspective. Mountain girl, Paula, logging out.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2009 Leetonia Style

We have gone to Cedar Run Inn most every New Year's Eve since we have been up in Leetonia. Charlotte and Stanley helped us out with jobs the first year and getting connected to other people. Over the last six years they have become like a second family to us.

The Inn is closed during December and January, but Charlotte always has a little party for her family and friends. Games and food are part of the fun.

Drawing pictures can be challenging for some people and easy for others. One thing is sure
Charlotte and her sisters seem to have an almost psychic connection figuring out each others drawings. The second picture shows one of her great nieces drawing while the rest of us guess.
It is a small group of people but a fun way to spend the night. After visiting we drove up from Cedar Run on the very road I had my accident on this summer(I was picked up at the Inn were I lay on the floor waiting for the ambulance). Looking at the spot snow-covered and slick is not a comforting feeling. It is marginal to drive on but not as bad as I have seen it. I certainly don't recommend anyone without four-wheel drive, chains and nerves of steel to go this way. The Subaru Forester with studded snow tires did an excellent job.
I let Lee drive and for the most part I remembered to breathe. I will admit I am not as steady after having the accident. There is something very beautiful about driving through the woods when the snow covers the trees and the moon is out. It was very cold with numbers in the single digits and a good wind chill. So when we made it home the warm cabin was a welcome sight. Mountain Girl, Paula, logging out and looking forward to 2009 living in Leetonia.

Visit from Sister and Kids

I got a call from my sister, Ruth, Saturday announcing that Hunter my nephew wanted to come up for Christmas and they were coming the next day. It is about a 9 hour drive from Indiana so I was very surprised they wanted to make the trip in Winter. So on Sunday the invasion started.

She brought the twin girls, Haley and Abbey and their older brother Hunter leaving the youngest and poorest traveler behind with his dad. As you can tell the twins at age 10 are a handful. Hunter almost 12 is a bit more settled. They all love the outdoors and animals so being up here came pretty natural for them.
This was the girls first trip up since they were little so they didn't have much memory of the place. It was Hunter's first trip up during winter. We played Whitetailopoly and I believe there wasn't much attention to the rules. The game is a bit too long for ten-year olds with lots of energy.

The snow was just good enough for sledding.
I pulled them behind the snowmobile on a truck tire tube for what seemed like a hundred trips back and forth to the pond up about a quarter mile on our back road. They walked, dragged, and were pulled by the dogs all over and by the end of the day the result is shown best by the picture of the twins passed out on couch with Thor passed out on top of them. I guess they make nice human pillows.

On Wednesday morning when they were to leave, a sudden quick snowstorm left 3 inches of snow in the amount of time it took us to pack my sister's van. Lee and I had doubts of getting the van out the now snow-covered and icy road, since a plow or cinders had not been seen for 4 or 5 days. Lee and my sister had picked up cable chains for the van, but when we tried to put them on they were too short. So we were off with a hope and a prayer up Cedar Mountain towards the Galeton side.
I watched my sister's van make it about a mile up the mountain and as the mountain got steeper the van got slower and slower and then just spun to a stop in one place. We had only made it half way up and the steepest part was yet to come.

My sister's Dodge van has no low gears just Drive, Neutral and Reverse. This is not a good thing for up here. Fill it with noisy impatient kids and you have a recipe for stress with a capital "S". I got out of the Subaru and plucked some pine branches to put under the tires which got us another hundred feet into steeper territory. About this time a truck came up behind the whole mess. If her van had not been plastic everywhere the problem would have been solved by pulling her up the mountain. But there was no where to put a chain on that wouldn't rub on the plastic bumpers and break them. Since this was an 2008 van that was not an option.

We decided to send Lee back for some old tire chains even though they didn't fit the van. I have used them to lay flat in front of vehicles to get them unstuck successfully in the past. As we waited my sister gathered loose bark off of the trees and we tried that under the tires unsuccessfully. By this time the kids needed drugs and the only advantage of these new vans is video playing. My sister inserted a movie and started it to keep them quiet and occupied. Lee arrived shortly with the chains and our hope revived.

I got the most pleasant position of driver as my back is still healing. Lee and Ruth put the chains under the front tires and they and the two men pushed. We started moving a whole 3 FEET! As soon as the chains ran through the forward movement stopped. Lee and Ruth retrieved the chains and we repeated the process another THREE FEET. I estimated we had about another 2000 feet to go so this was going to take a while. This process was repeated so many times I lost track. We I got to a flatter area and I went a good 500 feet before it stopped again.

The wind was wicked with this storm and the temperatures were in the teens so I am sure the windchill was negative. The chain movers and pushers were starting to get tired and in my family when you get tired you either get mad or joke about it. I will have to say a little of each occurred although it was mostly joking as my sister slipped on the ice putting the chains under the front tires, sliding under the van getting up quickly announcing, "Just checking under the hood, everything looks good!" and laughed. I'm sure she was wondering if she would be spending another night or two with the kids while we waited for the plow and cinders.

After another twenty or thirty times of moving the chains, sliding this way and that inching our way up the hill I caught another burst of forward movement. The men helping us had moved their truck up far ahead of us thinking I wouldn't get that far, but now as I moved forward without the chain leap frogging, I faced a decision to stop and not make it up to the top of the hill or squeeze past the truck and maybe hit it. I sucked in a breath to make myself smaller(not sure that works) and squeezed past him. Turned out to be the best decisions because the forward movement was just enough to make it to the top of Cedar mountain. I waited for the chain gang to drive up and we slowly went down the mountain at less then 5 mph and got her to our mail boxes a mere 7 miles from the house just as the movie for the kids ended. It had taken us over 2 hours to go the seven miles; most of it spent on the side of the mountain the first 2 miles from the house. We escorted her to the gas station in Galeton where potty breaks abounded as we had not planned on that length of time to take her out. She made it home to Indiana before the New Year taking her about 13 hours instead of the usual nine and collected a few stories to tell about the trip to Leetonia in the Winter. I wonder if they will come back this time of year again? Mountain girl, Paula, logging out.