Mazatlan Dump with La Vina

Cookout on the BEACH!

Keep in mind this is February.  It’s the last day of February, but it’s still February and about 18 degrees F.

IMG_0004eThis afternoon, Holly wanted to go out and do something fun as a family.  The first plan was to have a cook-out on Chilkoot Lake; to just build a fire right on the ice. 

While that might seem like a bad idea, I’ve never actually tried starting a fire in the middle of a frozen lake, so it was a bit hard for me to dissuade her of the notion that it’d be both fun and a success.  Then we talked to Ron Horn and he said the road is not plowed all the way out to the lake, so we’d have to walk about a mile out to the end of the road through the snow–not something I’d want to do without snow-shoes with three little ones.

To get down to the beach, we had to climb down a really steep snow pile which was covered with the new snow from this past week.  It really was a beautiful day.


IMG_0015cThen she got the idea that it’d be fun to cook hot-dogs and s’mores, so I thought it’d be best if we moved the cook-out to the beach. BAM.  That seemed like a good idea to me, it’s close to the road, it’s on dry land, we could easily put some wood in the car and take it down to the beach, etc. 

We called the Greens and invited them to come, but they weren’t home, so as Holly went to the store to get some supplies, I went to the school and tracked the Greens down at the Energy Fair in the cafeteria.

IMG_0032For the location, we decided on the beach near the Cruise Ship dock right in front of town.  We got some free wood from Ron, and headed down there.  Blacky had shown Mark how to light a fire with a wooden match, so we set him to using the matches to start the fire.  He’d never used paper matches before, so I had to show him how to light a paper match.  Note to self.  Get a box of wooden matches for the next cook-out.  Mark actually lit the match that lit the fire–which was pretty exciting for us.


Since all the sticks, willows, and branches are covered by snow this time of year, we brought our metal Weiner roasters.  It was so cold out, and the fire was so small, that we really had a problem with keeping warm.  But this is not the usual time of year to be burning wood outside, as people with wood stoves are burning wood in their homes whenever possible to save money on fuel oil.


To help control the breeze on the fire, I used the two large pieces of wood as a wind block and built the fire down in the crotch of the v.  It worked really well, it seemed.  At one point, Steward Dewitt took his boat out and splashed some waves up on the beach and we had to move our stuff up out of the inter-tidal zone for an extra margin of safety. 

Right now, Holly is putting the boys to sleep while I was the dishes 🙂

Severe Electrical Problem

On Monday Holly called me at work and said that her mother had called her to say that the dryer had made a flash and a loud noise and then the Toyo Stove (Laser 73) had shut off along with a bunch of lights.  The breakers had flipped.

It was during the 4-minute passing period when she called right before my prep period, so I went home in a borrowed car and unplugged the dryer and the Toyo stove and then flipped on the three breakers that had tripped.  Immediately they tripped again and also gave off a large spark with a snap.  Obviously this wasn’t your garden variety electrical problem.  I found an outlet that was still working and ran an extension cord to the Toyo stove to keep it working and keep the house warm, then called Irwin Hertz, the electrician to puzzle it all out. 

Houston, we have a problem.

For three days, we heated the house by closing doors on in the extra rooms, running electric heaters on working circuits that I’d bought at garage sales over the past 10 years: an 1800w oil/electric register type on wheels, a small 1500w thermostatically controlled ceramic heater with a fan, and a parabolic radiator dish on a stand.  We kept them powered down to 2/3 power most of the time and lit the house with extension cord powered lamps.  When it got too cold, we turned on the oven at 350 degrees with the door open.  The nice thing is that we have a propane stove to heat with and the circuit for the hot water heater was not faulty.  We didn’t dare try the washer or dryer.

In the end, the power company had to run a new wire to the house, as the old one was corroded and insufficient, we lost the Toyo stove, the dehumidifier, a number of the lights, and the electric piano.  This will probably cost around $1,700 by the time we have our Toyo heating stove back from Gene Strong, as it needed both circuit boards replaced, along with the wick and the burn pot, which amazingly was cracked due to the excess heat in the igniter, if I’m understanding everything correctly.

When summer comes, we’ll have to run a new wire to the power box in a metal conduit, if we can find the time or perhaps see if AP&T can move the box to the house for us.  For the time being, we have all the proper wires from the power pole to our house and we are safer than we’ve been for a long time.

Currently, the house is being heated with a loaner Toyo Laser 72, the model that preceeds our model, which Gene installed to keep us warm until the parts come in for our stove. 

Life is good.

Best Burgers in Anchorage: Tony’s Burger Stop

IMG_0452Does anyone CARE what I ate for lunch? 

Usually, I just eat the cheapest, healthiest meal I can find that will leave my blood-sugar level at an even keel. And usually, that’s two bean & cheese burritos that I buy by the package at $4.80 for 10 burritos. I love this meal, because it’s cheap, easy to fix, relatively healthy, and does not put my on the blood-sugar roller coaster.

But today, I was in Anchorage.  And I wanted to go to Red  Robin.  I told Jack to take us to the place in town with the best burgers and was expecting to be taken to some national chain restaurant with a clean floor, tons of space, a TV going in the background, and a few options. 

IMG_0454Instead, we went to a tiny little out of the way shop downtown.  The building was lousy, the seating was minimal, the ambiance had left much to be desired, but was better than having a TV going, and the refrigerator was WAY too loud.  But their burgers were Awesome.

The thing I liked about the burger is that it had a dark, almost burnt crisp exterior, but a nice juicy red interior.  I opted for the swiss mushroom burger, the curly fries, and about 14 oz of ketchup.  It was really good, juicy, and messy.  It was not crowded, but we weren’t there on a weekday.

The potatoes turned out GREAT

Holly says…

I think it would be best to use a straight concentration of ACV to soak them in, to get them a bit more zing.  They dried out overnight and curled up as dry as can be.  I think they’d be great for dipping just about anything into, but they don’t really have that salty addictive taste that I’d like in a chip, as I had to add too much water to the ACV.


Today we shot the Mosquito Lake School shots, then I shot the Cross country Team, then shot the community photos, and then some volleyball.  It was a really busy day.

A new diet: RAW food

Margaret took the boys over to her garden to pick potatoes and carrots with them and give Holly a much deserved break.  Then she brought us a nice little box full of them.  The boys had a great time picking them.


IMG_8879Since Holly is on a RAW food diet, she needed to have them prepared for eating tomorrow, which is not the easiest task, since she doesn’t like potatoes. So I sliced them up in the Cuisinart Special Edition  Metal 14 cup processor…


IMG_8880Then soaked them in ACV, Apple Cider Vinegar (vinegar that has the ‘mother’ in it, but smells just as bad a vinegar), garlic, salt, and onions.  Then I put them in the 12 drawer Excalibur variable temperature dehydrator at 135 degrees.

It’ll be interesting to see if they turned out okay in the morning.  Initially, I only put in four drawers worth, but I’m going to go back and put the rest of the sliced ones in then hit the sack.

Merry Christmas to All!

This is a ridiculous picture, but we did have a bit of snowfall last week.


We’re having a wonderful time here in Haines.  Holly and the boys put up the Nativity scene on the 24th.  Here’s Mark putting up the manger and baby Jesus.


There were plenty of presents to open.  Notice the snow in the process of slowly sliding off the roof.


Here’s the snow from the outside of the house.


We’ve been reading a lot of books to the boys over the break.


Holly is now 34, and looking great.  Margaret’s Lemon cake with whipping cream was very good, once again.


We had some pesto pasta on the 24th, made from scratch with the food processor.  The moisture on the front of the lens caused some strange diffusion and glare, as the camera had been outside all night.


John Caleb is turning into quite a photographer (actually, it was the self timer).


Well, send us a note and tell us how you’re doing this week.

Take care and Happy New Year!

Matt, Holly, Mark, Luke, and John Caleb