Friday, November 29, 2019

Holiday Stroll - 2019

The weather was much nicer for this year's Holiday Stroll, the Friday after Thanksgiving where the local residents and merchants celebrate shopping day.  Warmer weather between snow storms, there was no precipitation this year.  We three were there though didn't stay for the parade.

Here's what we saw....


Somehow Reveller's clip was not included, sorry!

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving!

Nothing real major this past week other than a Thanksgiving wish for my friends, visitors and family.
Last weekend we were up in Superior Wisconsin for Peg's Aunt Betty's funeral.  A sad event but good day for the family to gather.

Deer hunting time again here in SE Minnesota, our local district has a week on, a week off and now the 2nd week-long shotgun slug season is underway. John, our local farmer, is hoping to recoup some of the forage he loses all year long via the venison.  We heard some very nearby booms last night....

It's taken too long but now there's a bike up on the lift getting some attention, more on that as it develops, To Be Posted Here.  As far as the blog goes, a few posts are in their early Draft stages; the Black Hills and Wyoming are priorities.  I'm suffering from more planned ideas than I have available time to compose and publish but the UP side is that I'm not bored nor anticipate anything remotely close to that in the foreseeable future.

Speaking of UP, Hanna has given us tickets for next Sunday's Minnesota Orchestra performance....a favorite, I loved this movie and it will be fun watching AND listening in a new way.  A Thanksgiving meal will follow, hosted by our daughters.  Even better, my must-see each Christmas movie will be seen in much the same way later in December.  Star Wars and Harry Potter both previously performed as part of the Movies and Music Season.

Peg listened to and then shared a story with me last weekend from the Center For American War Letter Project from Chapman University.  As you might very well imagine, I have something to contribute.  From what I can tell, every letter that dad wrote AND received while in the South Pacific is here in a box.  Once I'm convinced that everything is gathered in one place, both stacks of letters will be contributed.

More sorting, lots of disposal and a few items of interest are being saved.....the process continues, fun treasures found and memories refreshed.

Backpacking one weekend northern Minnesota, a discovery....

My postcard to mom and dad from Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland.  My printing, half a millimeter tall.....

"...sat around a foggy fire last night with a couple of other bikers, Cairo....IL..laughing about the cold wet weather...Young hitchhiking couple from QUE asked me for help getting their campfire going, determined that I take their bottle of wine....we shared a glass.....Young Craig next door, maybe 12, fascinated with me and the bike....went back to his folks then returned, they want to know where your wife is....Raining again.....the Illinois biker is yelling over here from his campsite.....tomorrow we're going to Florida...."   July 28, 1979

Christmas time '80 we flew to London, spent a few days, then took the train up to Holyhead, ferried to Dublin and met Brendan there.  Over Christmas week, we circled Ireland, then ferried back to Liverpool, rented the Ford Cortina and left for the Lake District and Scotland.  We didn't quite make it, bad wintery weather turned us south and west to Wales where we were stranded for 3 days in the blizzard and missed our flight home.  Making matters worse, my plane ticket fell out of my jacket while shoveling our car out, making adventure we didn't really need.

We stayed in Piccadilly Circus ....

Que time in the Theater District, we saw numerous plays.

Trinity College, Dublin....

Brendan's Uncle Tommy and I discussing Irish dairying....

My turn driving the Cortina.....

From the Kincade Hotel, Llandrindod Wells, County Powys, Wales....some long but fun days stranded with the other hotel guests.  Finally we left, illegally on roads officially closed.

From our place in the valley, hope and trust that everyone stopping by finds their Thanksgiving to be a special day for peace, calm and gratitude.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Story Of A Driveway

The story goes way back, way back to the 1880's when great grandfather Frederic Steffenhagen bought our 162 acres from local Civil War General Lewis Garrard.


United States 
Pierre Larivire 
No. 3
Land Office Entry
Dated: April 24, 1857
Taken from Abstract of U.S.
Land Office Entries


Florence Garrard and Lewis 
H. Garrard, her husband
Fred J. Steffenhagen
No. 51
Dated: July 14, 1884
Recorded February 28, 1885
Consideration $2500.00
Conveys the following described premises-Beginning at ........
.......thence south 19°30' west 59.43 chains to southwest corner of C.F. Herders land; thence north......
A chain in land measurement is 66 feet, 22 yards, or 20.117 meters.  59.43 chains is 3922.38 feet.  That's a long ways through an entire valley, up over the top of a hill and down into bottom land in the next valley.  There is simply no way for a surveyor in days of old to draw that straight line and as a result, our family (and our relatives that eventually owned the farm next to us) used the terrain and Kentucky Windage to establish the boundary; fences built reasonably close but not necessarily on the official property line.

In the first part of the last century, the dry ditch had a more natural slope.  In the 50's when my uncles lived on and ran the farm, a deeper, narrower ditch was dug to control the valley's water flow, centralizing the stream and keeping it from spreading it out to the crop land.  I can remember dad talking about getting through the abrupt ditch with his '50 Chevy when dating mom, the extended bumper almost hanging up during the crossing.  Later, a concrete slab was poured with a hollow culvert beneath, providing a much more gentle transition down and through.
Jump ahead 100 years and the now official property line somehow manages, from our 'dry' ditch that drains roughly 1600 acres upstream up to our access road, to place the very end of our driveway half on our property and half on our neighbors. In practical terms, this placed a section of our concrete slab on our neighbor's land, something he held over us to the point that fighting him and it was more trouble than living with our flooding, so live with it we did.  By waiting until 2019, we were under far more stringent Land Use Restrictions in dealing with our local watershed(s).

In 2004, our neighbor and his wife divorced, their property split and farm sold.  Our driveway issue came officially to light after the new survey was required and as a result, a legal (expensive) easement was created.

If you've been paying attention, the following is all old news.  But just in case you weren't around for the excitement.....

2008, January - Drifting extraordinaire .... probably no more than 6" of new snow but it blew and packed.

2008, March

 2009, March - Spring snow melt...

2012, June - 6 inches of rain over a few hours

2013, March - A late and large snowfall....

2013,  March - Rapid melting, deep enough snow that the water is running over the top of the snow in the ditch rather than down inside of it.

2013, April - Still melting, the north slopes of the valley still hanging on to inches of late snow.

2014, January - A nice snowfall...trying to drift and succeeding, the snowfence 'catch' almost at capacity.

2014, March - Thawing, freezing, thawing, freezing....this was about as bad as the flooding got for us to cope with.

2015, September - More heavy rain in a short time span...and more mud erosion.

2016, August - The morning we needed to leave and pick up our U-haul to bring Gramma home from New Mexico.

So you get the idea....lots of workarounds and lots of compromise.  Since 2004 we've believed that on balance, not spending the huge costs of driveway improvement would in no way offset the inconvenience.  There's room for lots of motel overnights and 'late for the meetings' missed in $50k.

An upstream view of the dry ditch that drains the valley.  This dug by my uncles to keep water out of the adjacent crop land.  Recent more stringent enforcement (the laws are old, just were never enforced) now requires adjacent buffer zones for erosion control and water quality, meaning no more beans or corn right up to the edge of like ditches.  The buffer width increases for actual running water streams.

Top soil pushed aside to access fill from a hill that we could sacrifice.

July 18 it rained and rained some more....

Late July.....

Cars parked on the road.....for over a week.  We needed our chore boots, almost wore them out.

Only two days before I needed to get out with the van and trailer for my Wyoming trip, the driveway was passable.  I don't need to tell you that alternate vacation plans were being considered because things weren't lookin' good for my departure.

Here are the action shots....

I've got great confidence that the driveway's story is not yet complete.