I have been wanting to go snowshoeing pretty much all winter, but things have seemed to conspire against me. Either I didn’t have enough snow, or I didn’t have enough time. Today, I had enough of both, so Penny and I set out for Sandogardy Pond. I don’t know when I was last there, but I do know it’s my first time since taking a new job in NH in November.

I always like to take pictures of Cross Brook (or as I prefer to call it, Little Cohas Brook).

Cross Brook

Cross Brook

Penny was afraid to cross the bridge, so she started making motions to swim the brook. I called her off, but she really thought I was going to cross and didn’t want to be left behind. I attribute that more to her being a dog than to anything special about me. 😉 I told her to sit, and she did.

Penny waits obediently

Penny waits obediently


I took another shot or two of the brook and then turned around and came back across to her. She seemed relieved.

I didn’t notice this at first:

Stray paddleboat

Stray paddleboat


It’s a paddle boat. It’s owned by some people who live on the pond, but I’m not sure exactly which house they live in. Also, I didn’t see an easy way for me to rescue their boat without risking hypothermia, so I let it be. Maybe someone with an ATV or snowmobile could pull it out.

This hike was very much needed, both by me and by Penny who has not had a decent hike since at least November. I’ve been busy with so many things. One of them was this:

Ship in a Bottle

My Pinewood Derby entry


My Pinewood Derby car. Yes, it’s a ship in a bottle. Lots of people asked how I got it in there, and I told them I had a shrink ray and that it was a real boat. I had shrunk it smaller than that so I could fit it through the mouth of the bottle and then put it in reverse and tapped it a few times. It didn’t unshrink the bottle though, because the bottle is glass and the ray would just go straight through it.

But the real answer is that the mast folded down (towards the stern). It slipped in fairly easily with the mast pushed back, and once it was in there, I pulled it up with the rigging. I tacked the thread to the jib-boom with s dot of super glue (which sailors of old surely lacked).

The sails are made from a tea bag, and the ship is set in the bottle in wax. Once I had the boat inside, I shaved some wax, dropped it in, and set it on the stove until it melted. Then I set the boat in position and let the wax harden.

Nothing to it!

The Pinewood Derby was the last part of a very long day. It started with our annual Pathfinder Sabbath. We did a “Newscast” from Jericho in the time of Joshua. The kids did a great job, but the whole program was plagued with technical difficulties. After that we had a potluck lunch, and then went into the Bible Bowl, which is like a quiz show. This year the material all came from the book of Joshua (which is why we selected that for our newscast).

Then we had supper followed by the Pinewood Derby. All-in-all, I very much enjoyed the day, in spite of the technical difficulties.

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This weekend we had our third weekend snowstorm in a row. But I am MORE than OK with that. It gets even better (for me… most people I know feel the opposite way). We are forecast to get another foot of snow overnight and into tomorrow.

But before that happens, let’s get caught up with this previous snowstorm. I woke up for breakfast and there were a couple of inches on the ground then. After I ate, I decided to go back to bed, and I slept until noon. When I got up again, this is what I found:

My snow gauge was working

My snow gauge was working


That’s about a foot of snow. 🙂

The snow was still stuck to the trees, which in my opinion, is the most beautiful sight I am privileged to see. I like this more than brilliant autumn leaves or a field full of wildflowers.

Down the Driveway

Down the Driveway

The downside is that it makes the road pretty slick. I grabbed the newspaper while I was out and saw this car in the ditch.

The roads must have been slick

The roads must have been slick

For reasons I cannot explained, I just assumed that no one was in the car and that a tow truck was on the way. So like a true oaf, I snapped a photo and then went snowshoeing in the back of my woods.

Along the trail in my woods

Along the trail in my woods


It was pretty there too.

I was out again later when my neighbor across the road (Jeff) came walking up from that direction. He had the presence of mind to actually go and check on them. It was a young couple, and they were waiting for AAA to come and get them. I felt pretty stupid for not thinking of checking on them myself. They had been there for over an hour at that point. I went in and asked Va to make some hot chocolate. We couldn’t find any cups with lids, so I poured the hot chocolate into a thermos, grabbed some un-lidded cups and snowshoed down the road to them. When I got there the tow truck was getting ready to leave.

Help arrives

Help arrives


They accepted the hot chocolate with lots of thank you’s. I know I felt better.

That night I took Jonathan back to Durham, as he was going to have class on Monday in spite of this snowstorm. It was a dicey ride, but I made it there and back again without incident.

The next morning (Monday), I strapped on my snowshoes again and took Penny out for a nice long walk. We headed down to Sandogardy Pond. I didn’t actually go to the pond itself this time. We crossed Cross Brook, which I still prefer to call “Little Kohas Creek.” More beauty.

Little Kohas Creek

Little Kohas Creek

After crossing, we kept going until we got to the railroad tracks. We walked north on the tracks. The tracks are not active this time of the year as far as trains go. But as for snowmobiles and snowshoeing, it’s quite active. There were two sets of snowshoe tracks left since the snow had stopped, and I was adding a third set.

I've been walking on the railroad

I’ve been walking on the railroad

Penny can find sticks even when they are buried under two feet of snow. Sometimes she finds sticks that are just a tad too big though.

Penny found a too-large stick (my opinion, not hers)

Penny found a too-large stick (my opinion, not hers)


I would not throw this one for her, much to her disgust. If I did throw it, she would catch it and probably lose several teeth in the process. But she would bring it right back so I could throw it again, and she would lose more teeth. Since I know she is going to need her teeth, I just let her be disgusted. There were plenty of other sticks out there, and she was able to find many of them.

I guess we did about four miles all told. I was pretty winded when we got home, but Penny was exhausted.

I took Penny snowshoeing on Sandogardy Pond today. It’s about the only thing I can do with her that wears her out more than it wears me out. This is something she needs, as she doesn’t get nearly as much exercise as a typical border collie needs.

While we were out I captured three different gaits she left in the snow.

In the deep snow she would “weasel jump”:

Weasel jumping

Weasel jumping


Weasel jumping is what tires her out so much. Each leap and she would find herself buried chest-deep in the snow only to launch herself forward again. It made me tired just watching her. She can still outrun me in deep snow though. Weasel jumping might take it out of her, but it’s quite a bit faster than snowshoeing. Even if I had been running in the snowshoes, I don’t think I could overtake her.

We finally made it to a place where the snow mobiles had gone before us and broke the trail. She could gallop like normal through that:

Gallop

Gallop

But she would only do that when I threw a stick. All that weasel jumping convinced her that walking was a better option.

Walking

Walking

When we got to the pond we walked all the way across it (well… within 50 feet of all the way across). Someone else had been out there with snowshoes too, but I think it was before Monday’s additional two inches of snow we got. They crossed it from west to east to west. Penny and I crossed it from south to north to south.

Then we went home.

I put on my snowshoes late this afternoon and walked around the house. Even though we have deep snow covering the ground, Penny still managed to find several sticks that she just knew I wanted to throw for her.
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The next photo shows a hole that had two sets of squirrel tracks. One leading to it, and the other leading away.

Squirrel hole

Squirrel hole

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Basement door

Basement door

The task ahead

The task ahead


Now I wish I had prepositioned my snowblower last night. Instead, it’s pinned in the garage by my car, and the only way to get it out is to back the car out. Before I can do that, I will have to shovel out a place to back the car to.

Today I took Penny for a walk in the snow. It was (barely) deep enough to justify snowshoes, so I brought those along too. I didn’t put them on right away, as it’s not a great idea to wear them on a plowed road, and I had plenty of that between me and my destination. We first turned into the ex-forest.

Penny found a stick for me to throw

Penny found a stick for me to throw


We crossed that parcel of land and then walked towards Sandogardy Pond, though I didn’t actually go to the pond itself. Instead, we took the trail to the railroad tracks.
Snowshoe Alley

Snowshoe Alley


These tracks are used by trains during the warmer months, and by snowmobiles during the colder months. They are open to snowshoeing during the winter too. We walked south along the tracks and continued until we reached what was once a train depot.
Northfield Station

Northfield Station


About once per month when we drive by this old train station, I trick Beth into letting me tell her that this house used to be a train station. Usually I say something like, “Oh yeah! I forgot to tell you something important.” She’ll usually (but not always) take the bait, saying “What?” That’s when I spring it on her. “This house used to be a train station!” It elicits deep groans every time. When I got back from my hike today she asked me if I’d play Uno with her, and I took the opportunity to do this again. I had my laptop on my lap after just having downloaded the day’s photo haul. The photo above was on the screen. I said, “OK, but first I need to show you something on the computer.” She came and sat down beside me and I sprung the dreadful phrase once again. “This house used to be a train station.” “DADDY!” Ha ha. Then we played Uno for half an hour or so. But back to the hike.

Near the train station is a nice red barn with a nice red house (or is that the other way around?) I think that if the house didn’t have a barn, it would not be painted red, so I like to think of the barn having the house.

Red barn and its house

Red barn and its house

That was about as far from home as my hike led me today. I headed back home down the road so I could pass the Union Church.

Northfield Union Church

Northfield Union Church


Like the train station, it looks best in snowy weather. I took the snowshoes off again as we were once again hiking along the road. We took a shortcut on a short unplowed section of road when I notice our shadows.
Self portrait

Self portrait


I couldn’t capture exactly what I saw though, as I needed to hold my snowshoes over me shoulder using the same hand with which I held Penny’s leash, so my right hand could work the shutter button. But it’s not far off. I tried to tuck my camera arm in so it wouldn’t look like I was taking my picture, even though the leash leads the eye right to the camera operator.

That was a good walk. The thing I like best about snowshoeing with Penny is that she has to work a lot harder than I do to make progress. This tires her out more than it tires me out, and that is something she very much needs.

Maybe there will be more of this in the near future.

On Friday when Beth and I went to my Little Cohas Brook cache, she lamented that she had left her snow pants and sleds at school. I told her that if she remembered to bring them home on Saturday, I would take her to the sand pit today. So she did remember.

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I joined her on the sled for several runs, and we had a lot of fun. I also realized that I was standing only 50 feet or so from her geocache (Sand, Sand, Sand!) and that I had a geocoin in my camera bag. I picked it up in Arizona, and its goal was to travel far and wide. According to the geocaching web site, I moved it 2,125.11 miles, which accounts for about two thirds of its total traveled distance. If it’s still there next week I will move it again to a cache that gets visited more often.

We sledded for about an hour and then hiked back to the house (she in her boots, me in my snowshoes, and Penny on her four paws). On the way home, Beth suggested that we go to Dairy Queen to get some Blizzards. She is her mother’s daughter.

When we got home I replaced our mailbox. Last summer some kid went down the road with a baseball bat whacking every mailbox along his path (including ours). Ours was still usable, but on one particularly rainy day this winter (would that it could have been a snowy day instead!) we found that he had compromised its ability to protect our mail from inclement weather. So we bought a replacement. Problem is, I didn’t have daylight available to put it in place.

Until today.

The old one was bolted onto a frame, and I managed to twist the bolts in half while trying to get them off. So I had to go back down to the basement to find some different bolts. Then back out to the mailbox again. In short order the job was done, and I took the family to the Dairy Queen in Franklin for some blizzards.

We had already suggested DQ to Va, and she thought that they were not open during the winter. So she checked into it and found that they are closed through February. This is March. So off we went, all five of us.

Nothing like ice cream on a sledding day. 😀

Manchester Airport

Manchester Airport


We landed at Manchester Airport last night around 11:00pm. We were originally scheduled to land at 10:30, but our flight was delayed because of the snow. Yes! Finally some snow! More on that in a bit.

The delay was actually very good for us. We had a 30 minute layover in Baltimore during supper time, and anyone who has ever flown can tell you that 30 minutes is not enough time to feed a group of 19 and make the next flight. 60 minutes is sufficient, but only barely so. I went to an Italian place in the terminal and ordered four cheese pizzas. The girl rang me up for four slices, but I corrected her. I felt a little like Jake Blues when he ordered “Four fried chickens and a Coke.” No ma’am. Four whole cheese pizzas. She wasn’t sure they could even do that, but I was pretty sure they could. The manager concurred. It would be 15-20 minutes. David was with me, and the rest of the gang was waiting at the terminal.

While we waited, we played a game of chess. I was pretty pleased that I was putting up a good fight against him, and before he could completely destroy me, the pizzas were ready. Whew! The last time we played, we used the chess clock, and he cleaned my clock in 55 seconds. I was playing as quickly as I could too, and he is way better than me, so this did not come as a surprise.

The kids devoured the pizza, and we got on the plane. An hour later we found ourselves waiting on the tarmac at Manchester. The gate via which we were scheduled to deplane was frozen stuck. We taxied to a different gate and got off. I had the Pathfinders fall in and did a head count just to be sure. I had been doing head counts all day. Then we had a prayer of thanks and praise.

I divided up the kids who needed rides back to Concord among those who had available seats, and we set out from the airport. Va was there to pick us up, and we got home around 1:00am.

I slept until 11:00am.

Jonathan had gone to work, so Va, David, Beth, and I went to Tilton and had some lunch. Then Va ran some errands, while Beth and I took Penny for a glorious snowshoeing hike.

Finally a chance to put on the snowshoes!

Finally a chance to put on the snowshoes!


There was a foot of soft powdery snow on the ground – perfect for snowshoes. When we were in Arizona, I bought a couple of replica arrowheads, and I wanted to put them in my Little Cohas Brook cache. That was the point of the journey. Beth stayed on top of the ridge while I trekked down the bank and deposited the arrowheads. The previous visitor had left a plastic bat (the flying mammal), so I took that. I will put that in my other cache in Concord as soon as I get a chance. It will feel more at home there, as that cache is bat-themed (to a small extent).

Climbing back up the embankment was a bit more difficult, but I managed it. Then we swung by Sandogardy Pond just to look at it.

Sandogardy Pond

Sandogardy Pond

I love that pond. I don’t often see an undisturbed field of snow blanketing it. I wouldn’t dare snowshoe out onto it though, as we’ve had such warm temperatures. The ice is unlikely to be stable. Maybe that’s why there were no snowmobile tracks (or maybe that was because it was a weekday).

After taking in the pond, we started for home. We saw some mouse tracks in the snow, and I took three pictures of them, but none of them showed the track definition. It would be pointless to post them, as the photos look like… snow.

Penny enjoyed every minute of the trip.

Throw a stick?

Throw a stick?


There were sticks after all, and she found them even under the snow.

I am so glad we finally got some snow. It was worth the slow drive home last night. I hope it sticks around for a couple of weeks, but I think it’s supposed to rain tomorrow. It was short, but sweet.