Zeke and I slept in to 0630 on Day 10416; a foggy daybreak helped to sleep past the sunrise. We're still trying to figure out the best arrangement of blankets and the futon to stay warm all night. He ended up curled in one of the sheets, and I pulled an extra Army wool blanket over the top of us. Despite being late July, I imagine the woodstove will be needed at night soon.
We went outside and I fed him a breakfast of leftovers from dinner, which consisted of some tasty white rice with an egg and spinach, and some chicken that ended up fried in olive oil. I boiled some water to make coffee. We milled around the area, and walked up the field in one of the tire-mark paths.
Coming back to the housebus, we heard a rummaging in the treeline. I stopped, and Zeke perked up, silently, expecting a turkey or a deer to walk out, or perhaps a squirrel making more noise than his size would have you believe. A few twigs snapped. "What a loud deer... though the brush is pretty thick" I thought to myself. A branch went down, and I could see a khaki snout and a black face, which looked right at me, not more than fifty feet away.
"A Bear!" I won't type my lines, which were a string of expletives, but Zeke said; "ARROOOOOO!"
Not being very comfortable with this form of wildlife this close, and having seen "The Revenant," I bolted inside and grabbed the rifle and a magazine, all the while calling Zeke back, and feeling the adrenaline dump. The Ruger Mini-14 requires some finesse to slide the magazine in, and I didn't have it. Deep breath - lock the bolt back - magazine in - bolt release - one in the chamber - safety on. Zeke climbs up the bus stairs, and we wait for a few minutes at the low-ready. The bear, which seemed a little startled to see his new neighbors, sauntered out of the area.
Ironically, I had my comfy bear pajamas on.
In preperation for this weekend's trip, I did a few things to make life easier. One of my problems the weekend prior was lack of water. I used about two gallons, and imagine I would use mroe if I wasn't trying as hard to conserve. I remembered that I had two 5-gallon water cans stashed away; which would allow me to bring 10 gallons of drinking water up. That would last several days, and I could easily refill one at a time when I was out.
The issue I had was with handling. Pouring water out every time would get old; I wanted a faucet! After some googling, I came across a guy's post on Expedition Portal's forum who used a 1/2"x14 tap to thread the little pour spout, and then installed a hose bibb. I ordered parts immediately.
It was a ten minute project that would save me lots of strain in the woods.
Loading the truck for the journey; in the bed I have salvaged pallets and 4x4's, a toolbox, water and gasoline. In the cab I have my food. With my furry assistants I changed the oil.
The water jugs served me well. By opening the hose bibb and the breather port I can get a good half-gallon-per-minute stream (could this become a field shower?) Over two nights and three warm days, cooking several meals and many snacks, and staying hydrated, I used one 5-gallon jug.
The tailgate is a convenient height for a field kitchen, but it's an awful working surface with the stamped channels; I can't get anything to set down level! I need a decent counter...
Walking through the woods, Zeke discovered a deposit of sheet metal ore. He walked over it, making a CLOMP CLOMP sound as he sniffed the leaves. I peeled away an inch of thin roots and leaves to find six sheet metal panels, all in decent condition!
What a good dog!
I dove into an old wood pile, which I found was almost entirely rotted. This piece still has treenails in it!
I pulled out the ancient trailer from behind the rotted wood pile, with my even more ancient backhoe. The serial number plate is long gone, but based on the engine serial number, I think the backhoe came from the early Cretaceous period. The trailer appears to be a homebuilt? Maybe an old boat trailer? The tires are flat, but I'm curious if they will hold air...
With pallets I made a hasty compost bin. The sunshine and airflow, with the addition of carbon from plant clippings and sawdust, will help keep everything from getting to funky.
I used the old F350's old toolbox as a kitchen counter, instead of a back step. Way better cook surface.
My Grandfather, who doubles as my contracting agent, made a deal with his friend Robby for a triaxle load of bank run gravel.
Robby backed his rig in as far as he could into the soft logging road.
And with adequate supervision, emptied a dozen yards onto the swampy driveway.
With the loader bucket of the 580, I dragged the pile to spread it evenly, filling in the soft spots. Add "grader" to the list of jobs you can do with a backhoe.
The bottom of the drive is probably the smoothest part, now! Finish work was done with a USA-made steel rake, gifted by Gavin. Thanks man!
I believe I'll need a few more loads of gravel to keep the driveway dry and smooth.
Later, I was able to improvise a hydraulic breather plug, replacing the plug I lost in the mud last weekend, using odds and ends from the backhoe rebuild earlier this year.
An old picnic table from the Lake was donated to me; thanks Grandparents! The top boards were all rotten, but some other usable boards had been set aside to replace them.
This guy was pretty big. He helped.
All the boards were faded different colors, giving the tabletop some character. I trimmed them all down to shortest board using a skillsaw.
Wait, what? A skillsaw? That's right! I had the bus inverter running for 110v power. It being a bright sunny day, the battery bank was quickly recharged after each use by the solar panels.
Then I centered the mounts, and threw in some fresh carriage bolts. I neglected to get a picture of the finished product! Next time I'm up.
More to come, as soon as I can get back.