Sunday, December 26, 2010

We Have A List. We Just Need To Check It Twice

I hope everyone had a great Christmas.  Here in the City, we had a wonderful, relaxing time, and were very thankful for the 70 degree, sunny day.

Talking to our family around the States, I realized that I had not posted the latest pictures of the Shelter progress.

In November, RetroMan put up a lot of the rafters. 

In early in December, he continued putting them up.  Working alone is a hard job.

Our resident gopher decided to have a look at what all the noise was about.  RetroMan managed to keep working without injury despite the ladder sinking into the gopher holes.

Though it is 16'x24', the Shelter blends in nicely with the surroundings.   Here is a view from one of the trails we've been working on.

The last of the season's flowers are beautiful - or maybe they're seed pods.

The berries are barely hanging on.

Last weekend, in true Tree Ring style, we went up to continue working on the Shelter, but realized after we arrived that we didn't bring the keys to the Camper.

The compressor is inside the Camper.  Unlike the last time RetroMan broke in, he couldn't figure out a way to get in this time.

Note To Self:  If you are going to make a list so you don't forget stuff, you better read it. 

While there was no progress on the Shelter on that visit, we did do some more mapping of the property lines instead.  There are no bounds to the beauty of Tree Ring.  We are thankful every time we visit just how lucky we are.

On the way back home, I captured this beautiful sunset against the trees.

I wish everyone a happy, healthy New Year!  I am excited about the boundless possibilities of 2011!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Some Presents Are More Fun To Give Than Recieve

While putting up our Christmas decorations, we found a present that Retro Man gave City Girl a few years ago.  

It was a bulldozer he thought she could use to help clean up her bedroom.

She asked him not to give her funny presents any more.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

5 More Things about Me

1)  I always leave a tablespoon of food on my plate, but always have room for dessert.

2)  I prefer to read magazines and newspapers from back to front.

3)  I started cussing in the 8th grade.  I looked like such a sweet, innocent, girl next door and I so enjoyed the look of shock on people's faces when I cussed.  I had to get over that childishness when I had a child, and have been (mostly) cuss free for 17 years.  Now my child is almost an adult, and  I can tell I am starting to enjoy it once again. 

4)  When I was young, sometimes we would all pile in the car and my father would just drive.  Invariably we would get lost, but the joy of it all was discovering something interesting in the middle of nowhere.  We would always end up at a major road, and the challenge of figuring out where you were was a lot of fun.  I still enjoy doing this today.

5)  I went to college at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia - the Turkey Capital of the World.  Class of '85.

Please also see 5 Things About Me and send me blog links about you.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Spiders Make Me Nervous

Traveling around Tree Ring on the Polaris is so much fun.  Except when you run into a giant spider web with a giant spider on it.  This happens quite often, and it seems like the spiders in Florida are gigantic. 

Enter my crutch.  It is useful for so many things besides helping me walk.  One if them is spider web whacking.  I drive, and Retro Man wings that thing like it's a machete.  

Sometimes we get friends.

They've never landed on me.


But my heart gets thumping every time we encounter one on the trail.  When I've walked up to one on a web to get a close up, it quickly shakes like it is going to jump on you.  It's really freaky.  I'm always concerned they are going to jump on me and bite.

Fortunately, a little research shows this to be false.  According to the Shady Grove Training Center web site:

Golden silk spiders are very non-aggressive, and in all my years here, I have only heard of 2 people being bitten. They got a welt that went away in a couple of days. They normally do not bite unless you smack them first.  If one lands on you, all they want is "off".
Ok, so I'm cool.  

And I'm not researching any more in case someone else says there is a variant strain that DOES enjoy biting people.

Be sure to check out what Shady Grove wrote about the predictive powers of these spiders and Hurricanes.

So far, besides the Golden Silk spider, we've found what Florida Girl says is a Flower Crab Spider.  And of course I blogged about the Garden Spider attack.

Now bees and wasps, that's another story.  I have a barely controlled fear of them, and am known to run (ok, hobble) shrieking like a little girl.

Fortunately there have been no incidents to blog about.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Memories Of The Paddling Geek Squad

I don't usually have the speakers on while reading blogs, but I did today and heard some beautiful music coming from J'ellen In The Black Hills' blog.  Apparently you can play music from on your blog for free.

I asked Retro Man what we should play on our blog.


Ah yes, Dueling Banjos.  It is so fitting for so many reasons.

With all of the strange circumstances that seem to follow me at Tree Ring, like our Camping trip, or when I thought the neighbor was going to attack us, or when we thought we had a Sasquatch, I am always expecting some Deliverancy kind of thing to happen.  These are just the ones I've chosen to write about.

However it didn't just start with Tree Ring, and it is just me.  Retro Man is just an innocent bystander.

The best, and perhaps first, Deliverancy situation happened 20 years ago before Retro Man and I were married.  I was right out of college working at my first IT job.   My co-worker Dave, who was older and generally a trouble maker, thought it would a great idea for eight of us right-out-of-college software engineers to go on a 3 day canoe camping trip in West Virginia in October.  Most of the engineers had never been camping, much less knew how to paddle a canoe.

At this point in the story I urge you to turn on your speakers.

Dave taped the entire Deliverance movie on his tape recorder, and played scenes every day at lunch until that weekend.  We all thought it was really funny.

The morning of the Big Day, Retro Man fortuitously decided to bring some motorcycle rain suits for he and I to wear, because a cold front was coming and it looked like rain.

We all met at the Canoe Outfitter, who asked how many people had canoed before.  Only Retro Man and I raised our hands.  The Outfitter was worried, but reluctantly loaded us up in a bus and took us to the river anyway.  The Outfitter turned to me and asked which way is upstream.  I made a guess, and apparently it was wrong, because he shook his head and looked up in the sky.  He turned to RetroMan and showed him how to make an emergency shelter with the canoes.  After asking all of us about 10 times "Are you sure you want to go", we were off.  

Dave, who wore a T-shirt and a down vest, had bought a cool fishing hat into which he hooked a giant neon pink fishing lure.  It was really funny.  His Canoe partner was John, the youngest software engineer.

We were out about 2 hours and the rain started falling harder.  It started getting colder.  But we really didn't notice, because it took a lot of effort to paddle down the river.  After a couple of hours, we pulled the canoes over to eat.  Thankfully Retro Man had brought pepperoni, cheese, and bread.  Everyone else brought wine, beer and cigarettes.

The West Virginia river was in the middle of a deep valley.  There was no bank for all of us to stand on because it was raining so hard.  So we climbed 20 feet up the mountain and stood in a line passing the pepperoni back and forth.  Then the cheese.  Then the bread.  After about 20 minutes of silently passing food back and forth in the rain, we were all shivering and shaking and got back into our canoes to warm up.

About an hour later, Dave and John's canoe got stuck on a rock.  Dave just hopped into the river to free the canoe, but it took off without him, so he jumped up onto the rock and waited.  The rest of us sat in our canoes watching John desperately paddling to try to get the canoe back to retrieve Dave, who decided this was a perfect time to light up a smoke and wait.  In the freezing, pouring rain, with a T-shirt and a vest, and his pretty pink fishing lure sticking out of his fishing hat, he smoked a 1/2 a pack before John was able to retrieve him.  

At this point we all hoped we were close to the camp ground where we were supposed to spend the night.  The Outfitter told us it would be at a corner near some uprooted trees.

Well that was an understatement.  There was a log jam of about 15 giant trees piled up 40 feet high on the river bank.  We found a spot to pull in and immediately Retro Man had everyone turn the canoes over and lay them next to each other on the giant roots of ones of the uprooted trees so we could get some protection from the rain.

Fortunately, Doug brought some kerosene, which we used to light a fire on some wet wood using Dave's lighter.

At this point, Dave started to shake pretty violently.  While all of us were dangerously close to hypothermia, Dave had it full blown.  Fortunately he had some dry clothes in a plastic bag.

Under the canoes, next to the tree roots full of spiders and cob webs, with the rain falling softly around us, we all pretty much stripped in front of each other to get on dry clothes.  At this point, it was a matter of life or death.  After most of us warmed up, Doug noticed a road across the river and commented that he couldn't believe he was going to die within sight of civilization.  After a time Dave started to shiver less, and we all decided to put up our tents and try to get some sleep. 

Retro Man, always prepared, saved his geek future wife's life by having warm sleeping bags, air mattresses, the rain gear, and a water proof tent.  I wasn't sure everyone else would all make it through the night.

I am so happy he knows nothing about computers.

At first light we all got up and could finally see where we were.  About 100 yards away there was an outhouse with just one toilet.  

That was the camp ground.  

Doug pulled out the Junior fishing pole set he had bought at Kmart.  Still in the box, he broke it half over his knee and cried, "I hate camping!  This sucks!"

Just as we all decided to end the trip and try to find a phone to call the Outfitter to come get us, a rusty, red '64 Chevy Impala that tilted slightly to one side came towards us out of no where.  A heavy set woman with some missing teeth got out of the car, and asked us to pay up for the night at the camp ground.

Restraining Doug so he couldn't rush her, we decided to pay her so that we could use her phone to call the Outfitter.  We asked her if she had a phone.  No, but her neighbor did.

An hour later, the Outfitter came and rescued us.  He seemed very relieved  and said it was supposed to snow that night.  Back at the Outfitters, everyone except Retro Man and I threw their camping gear into the dumpster before they left for home.

Years later, everyone on that trip went on to become multi-millionaires during the Tech Boom, and most don't have to work any more.

Except me.  I moved to Florida to have a less stressful life and have babies.  

Retro Man and I still have the rain suits, and we can go canoe camping in the rain any time we want.

But we probably won't.

So I added Dueling Banjos to my Blog.  I hope you enjoyed the story and the song as much as we do.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Don't Cross That Line

Ahhhh, we arrived.

The flowers were still blooming.

We hydrated up.

There's water in that Sherry bottle, I swear.

Then Hit the happy trail. 

Some of the older trails are starting to look awesome.

Fall is definitely here.

No TRC trip would be complete without some mishap.

The pull cord broke.

But Retro Man is used to calamities and came prepared with another chain saw.

 Mmmmm.  That's a pretty big tree that needs to come down.

This video was laying on it's side, but I used VirtualDUB to rotate it.  Not sure how well it will work out, but I tried.

The sound of that tree falling was awesome.  I guess you had to be there.  Being a city slicker and all, I am easily impressed.

We got to one of the neighbors' known boundary markers (not share by us unfortunately), and measured about 100 feet in the general direction of our southeast boundary marker using this.

And while measuring Retro Man almost stepped on this.

Retro Man better stick with engine repair because he can't seem to get a grasp on the point and shoot.

I compared the snake to the diamondback at the end of this post, and I don't think it is the same.  Maybe it is a hog snake like Pure Florida blogged about today.  Or the rat snake we found last year.  What do you think?

Retro Man stood at the presumed southeast boundary marker and used the trusty compass to start our orienteering.

Thankfully we both agreed on the angle we should be shooting with the compass.  This involved finding out the magnetic declination and subtracting it from the direction in the property description.

Here's the property description once you are standing at the South East corner property marker:

Thence North 09 degrees 41 minutes 05 seconds West, 1830.63 feet to a point on the boundary .... blah, blah, blah.

I plotted the points I took in the GPS using Google.  In case you didn't know, just put lat/lon coordinates into Google separated by a comma, and your point will be displayed in Google maps.  The blue marks are the points I took yesterday.

Hmmmmm.  Looks like we're a little off on our calculations and may have blazed a bit of trail on our neighbor's property.

This morning Retro Man and I decided that we shouldn't have to account for magnetic declination, and that the direction listed in the property description is the direction we should be shooting from the corner.  Anybody have thoughts on this?

Our day ended with another 4 mile jaunt through on the neighborhood road.  We always turn around at this cattle farm.

It really is beautiful.  It used to have cows on it, but we haven't seen any in about 6 months.  It's owned by some guy in Orlando and I pray that he isn't going to develop it some day. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Trail Blazers R Us

The last time we were trail blazing, I took GPS points every 5 feet or so and then overlaid them onto a picture of Tree Ring.

Looks like we had a little moonshine from the still before we got started, huh?  Because Tree Ring used to be part of a honest to goodness tree plantation, the trees are planted very close together.  Getting through them has been quite a challenge, and we definitely need to thin them out.

We figured we would try to first blaze a trail to the back, then across, and then up the right side to the center.  After that, we could decide whether that trail is adequate for a fire break, or whether we need to create alternate paths.

We're going up tomorrow to keep going.  The goal is to make it to the bottom right property marker, and use the compass to begin following the property line up to the clearing.  I doubt we'll get very far, but you never know.  

Retro Man thinks he knows how to use a compass, so this ought to be interesting.  I imagine there will be much yelling and gnashing of teeth, because I took orienteering too, so we're both 'experts'.

The big blob on the center-right is the large oak tree where the pop up is located.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

One Of Those Weeks

I work in the IT industry and this Clients From Hell post really made me chuckle.

"Please call me if you don't receive this email."

That's the kind of week I've had, and it's only Tuesday.

It went something like this:

Gary Larson Far Side
Hope you are having a good week :)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Shelter Gets A Head(er)

Ahhhhhh.  The Florida Winter (June through September) is over, and now we are having Chamber of Commerce weather.  It's dry and cool with blue skies and sweet smells.

On Friday, Retro Man picked up two 24 foot 2x10s and  took them to Tree Ring to put headers on the front and back row of the Shelter.  I joined him on Saturday morning.

Of course the trip couldn't start without a Polaris repair to replace the shift cable.

The Pop Up was waiting when I got there.

The tools were out.

The front header board was up.

Sorry about the picture quality.

Retro Man said he wanted to put the rear header board up before we continued our trail blazing.

This looks so much easier than it really was.  In fact, there was a moment while I was taking pictures that I thought I might be documenting Retro Man's death.  The pressure treated 2x10 was unbelievably heavy and at one point it was 50/50 whether he'd be able to push it high enough since it was slightly warped and wouldn't go into the notch at the top of the pole.

We sure are Country green beans, aren't we?

Lot's of fall flowers and neat grasses were out.

And some cool bugs too.

Uh oh.  I think this is a Pine Borer.

And after a cool 4 mile ride, we found this 3 foot snake.

After some research when we got home, we discovered it was a diamondback rattlesnake.

Now that was sobering.  Looking back on it, I guess I was a little too close. 

Next visit some rafters go up.