Monday, May 10, 2021


 When we last left our intrepid explorers, they were very busy cleaning out their barn so that it could be insulated with spray foam. A daring feat by any means, not to be taken lightly. Carefully removing piece by piece the treasures from within. Trying not to disturb the vile evilness that lurks inside.

I'm sorry. I tried to make cleaning out the barn sound exciting but in reality, it wasn't. We got it done though and we were ready for the spray foam company to come in and do their thing.

We removed everything except for our refrigerator and freezer and a pile of wood along the wall that wasn't going to be foamed. They will just have to work around those. We originally planned on just doing the ceiling but changed our minds once we started clearing things out. We didn't want to have to do it again so we bit the bullet and did it all at once.
If you notice closely, all of our house wrap is right side up. Not upside down like other people we know.

Just a couple of before pictures. The foam company came in with 2 foam trucks and 2 foam crews and foamed the entire barn in one day which was awesome. They originally planned on 2 days with one crew so that worked out great.

They sprayed 3 inches of foam everywhere. They did an excellent job. Now before we started to haul everything back in, I wanted to put up some peg board along the back wall. I also wanted to organize things better than before.

With the walls foamed now, there was nothing to nail the peg board to. So I ran stringers across the main beams and then nailed the peg board to them. Adapt, improvise and overcome. One of the many mottos I live by.

It went along very well. So much so that we decided to finish the other walls like that also. It was a good idea because we didn't want to have to take out a loan and finish the inside with plywood or OSB. The peg board was $14.99 a sheet versus $40.00 for 7/16th inch OSB. That is just crazy the way lumber prices have skyrocketed.

With that project done, we could move everything back in. I may have to put something up above the peg board later on. But for now, it is fine. It is time to get some outdoor projects done. 

Our property has been overgrown with prickly ash and sumac. So if anyone has some spare time and wants to cut brush, feel free. I had a pull behind brush cutter that turned out to be the biggest piece of poo poo I have ever seen. It quit working over a year ago and the place I was taking it to get fixed told me they didn't want to see it again.
So if you plan on buying this type of brush mower don't. Save the $1800.00 dollars for something better. So with my mower down, we rented a walk behind brush cutter. It was called the "Billy Goat". Aptly named because this thing went through everything that was in front of it.
Here I am about to tackle this area of prickly ash and sumac.
And this is the area after the Billy Goat got done with it. It will cut down anything that it can mow over. If the tree is too big you will know because it just wants to climb it. We took turns cutting. Here is Lisa doing a fine job of it.
Now when ever I post pictures like that, everyone always says, "Oh, all we see is Lisa doing all of the work". 
So now you can see that I too did some brush cutting. Even while handicapped. After 6 to 7 hours of us cutting we were able to clear a nice size area.
We have lots of acreage to do but for now we are done with that for awhile. It was a lot of hard work and we think we will just rent it once a year and just keep clearing all of the ash and sumac. Another project on the to do list was our downspout on the cabin. Whenever it rains, it washes the dirt away.
It has rained a lot this spring. So we wanted to try and prevent that so Lisa made a trench for the water to follow and then filled it with rock.

Our hopes are that the water will just continue to follow that same course. We planted grass seed there but it just washes away.

Now the news everyone has been waiting for. My finger. It is still as painful as ever. I have been going to therapy 2 times a week just to have them bend and mangle it which makes it hurt even more. With no real progress being made at all. So I have cut down to once a week of excruciating pain sessions. I have been in contact with the Mayo clinic in Rochester to see if they will look at it. If I could cross that finger for luck, I would. Personally, I am leaning more and more to just cutting it off and moving on to more of a normal life. This thing is so irritating and frustrating that I can hardly stand it.

The beginning of May was a very big week for holidays and special occasions for us. We had "May the fourth", otherwise known as Star Wars day. Lisa dressed up like Princess Leia. I was a Wookie. Then the next day was Cinco de Mayo. Endless fajitas for us. Then the big day. We had another anniversary! I beat the odds in Vegas. 32 years. I smothered Lisa with cards and flowers.

There were also plenty of balloons involved.
After 32 years of marriage, Lisa has finally figured out what I like best.
This is a real life 30 pack! Imported from Fargo. You can't buy 30 packs here where we live for some reason. Only 24 packs. Funhaters. And finally Mother's day was on Sunday. She feels spoiled after all of the attention I gave her.

That's it for now. Our next big projects will be asphalt on the driveway and a patio out back. 

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Battle of the Hand

 I picked that title because it speaks for itself. This last month has been a battle with my finger issue and it doesn't look like it is going away anytime soon. Which is frustrating to me because it happened almost over night. So why doesn't it go away in the same timely manner? For the last few weeks I have been running to Fargo, 3 to 4 times a week for Dr. appointments. Chiropractors, Orthopedics, Therapists and Hand Surgeons. Trying to get some relief, The Carpal Tunnel surgery was a bust. Nothing came of that except a big beautiful scar that will rival Lisa's when the stories start around the campfire.

Everybody I see just wants to grab my finger and crank on it. Those that don't know what's going on is this. My finger is frozen into a permanent pointing posture. It's called a contracture and has been that way for 8 months now.It hurts and is super sensitive. Normally in a contracture the finger is curled up but I am one of the freaks of nature that it points straight out. If it doesn't go away, I may have to rethink my career choices. Like maybe an informational guide. 

"Excuse me sir. Which way is the Guggenheim?" To which I can say,

"You must go that way."

Or maybe find a sports team that needs a mascot. A winning team, not like the Vikings. Then I can get the crowd fired up by chanting, "WE'RE NUMBER 1! WE'RE NUMBER 1!"

Going to therapy has gotten it to bend a little bit. It is a struggle that is very painful. The therapist will grab that finger and bend it to actually touch my palm as tears run down my face. I can't get it to bend that far because of the pain involved.

It is funny how a little thing like bending your finger can be such an inconvenience. Typing this blog has become more of a hunt and peck type of typing. I guess keyboarding would be the proper term nowadays. When I went to high school, I took a typing class my senior year. Being the only boy in a class dominated by girls, the teacher gave me an old manual typewriter. She told me my fingers were strong enough to pound those keys. As I think about it now, I may have been a victim of sexism. Anyways, I learned the proper way to type and when I got to the end of the class, I could type 35 words a minute. Not too bad. 

On the house front. Lisa got her countertops installed on her new cabinets. They really look great. It is getting closer and closer to looking like a home. 

Between appointments and many other things, I have been working on installing more shiplap. I started working on the hallway and ran out of shiplap. So we ordered more and I was able to finish that. Also Lisa stained our bedroom barn door and we were able to hang that also.

The more I work with it the better it is getting. I still had a little left over so I continued on working on the laundry room wall.

The weather is warming up and that is letting us get outside to do stuff around the house. We are in a holding pattern at the moment for our next big project to happen. We decided to insulate the barn. So that means removing everything, and I do mean everything out so the spray foam company can come in and do their thing.

So Lisa and I rolled up our sleeves and went to work.

The view when you open the door. I know. How can 2 people accumulate that much stuff in a year? We are not hoarders, honestly. It looks like I should have doubled the size of the barn.

Once you get the fifthwheel out of there it looks better.

Finally, with the three campers out, it looked so much roomier. That just leaves us with the small stuff. Easy peasy.It should be empty by the end of the weekend and the foamers come on Tuesday. 

That's our life for the last month. Rumor has it that you may see us on the road again starting in September. So keep your eyes peeled for Tango Allejandro and Gladys Butterpump on a road near you.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Marching Along

 March has arrived and it did not come in like a lion. Temperatures quickly rose into the thirties, forties and even fifties. Quickly melting the snow we had and now making our driveway a muddy mess. I think we have decided that we need an asphalt pad in front of the barn so that we don't have to park in the mud.

The work is coming along on the cabin. The big project for the month is our cabinets. Lisa found kitchen cabinets, which meant getting the kitchen ready for the install. We needed to get the sheet rock up before the cabinets went in.

Since we were doing that we decided to also sheetrock the entire living room.

Not as easy as it looks because I am still operating with a half hand but more on that later. We also didn't want to have to work over the cabinets so we quickly put up the cedar tongue and groove on the ceiling in the kitchen.
Lisa was a huge help in doing those projects. She even overcame her fear of the nail gun and was nailing the cedar as I held it. It was funny listening to her. You would hear a "POW" and then a little scream. "POW", scream, "POW", scream. 

Finally the day came and our cabinets arrived. 2 days later and they were installed. They look great and we even found a table to match. The counter top will be installed next week so Lisa is a little giddy with anticipation.

We had some shiplap left over from the bathroom project so I started doing a section of the wall in the laundry room.

With that wall there now, I was able to take down the blue tarp that had served as our wall for months. I still had some shiplap left over (I guess I over estimated how much we needed for the bathroom) and started putting it up in the hallway.

I finally ran out, so we ordered more. I don't know how much more of that we will do at this time because the prices have more than doubled.

Now to my finger. I have not seen any improvement so I went back to Orthopedics for a second opinion. A little late, I know. He looked at my finger and said that I need to see the hand surgeon. He told me I have a contraction of the finger. It is rare because instead of being bent, it is straight out. He then takes my finger and tries to bend it, which he succeeded. However I was in excruciating pain. He let go after what seemed like hours and it went back to the straight position. So now I go to Occupational therapy for more torture. We will see if I can stand the pain. I wonder if it is really worth the amount of pain that the cure causes.

Maybe in the future my cowboy name will be 9 finger McGhee.


Saturday, February 13, 2021


 As I sit down to write the latest action packed, edge of your seat, nail biting installment of our blog, I want to share with you that it has been 8 days of below zero temperatures. It doesn't even get above zero during the hottest part of the day. In fact, it is negative 24 below as my frozen fingers peck away at the keyboard.

Cold is a relative term. For those that live here or anywhere north of here, they just deal with it. Life goes on. We have left this area the last 6 years because we were tired of the cold. That makes this the first winter back in 6 years and we are actually dealing with it very well for several different reasons. The main reason is that the cabin we built is so warm that we don't get chilled while sitting inside. Our floor heat and foam insulation is the best we have ever had. Second reason being is that we are retired and we don't have to leave the house at all if we don't want to and if we do leave we dress much warmer than we used to. We have Carhart jackets and coveralls. You aren't going to win a beauty contest but it will keep you toasty warm.

That is me drinking a beer at negative 20. It doesn't work that well because your lips can freeze to the can and if you leave your face uncovered, it can freeze in minutes.

Like our elderly friends in South Dakota, we to like to sit and watch the wild life out our back door. 
We started by feeding the birds and squirrels.  As word spread amongst the animal community about our abundant bird buffet, more and more birds and squirrels have showed up. Finally the deer have found our feeders and are raiding it morning and night. We conferred with some wildlife specialists in SD and they advised us to get some alfalfa for them. So we did. They are much happier.

Work on the inside of the cabin is progressing right along. We have been working on the inside of the bathroom. Putting shiplap on the walls and also the ceiling. Lisa had to stain the boards for the ceiling before we installed them.
The 14 foot ceilings and walls are becoming a little bit of a challenge. It makes for a lot of trips up and down the ladder. It is really starting to look good.
I finally got to use my new nail gun and I love it. I wondered how I got this far in life without one.
As you can see, I have just a little bit left at the top to finish along with the trim. That mirror is only temporary. That was just a thrift store find until we find the perfect mirror for that spot. Speaking of finding deals.


Last summer Lisa found a bunch of cedar boards that were in a barn since the 1960's, never been used. Well Lisa brought those in and washed every board by hand and then put a clear poly coat on them and they are ready to go onto the ceiling. That's the next project.

We found cabinets and they will be installed at the end of February. So we have to get the kitchen walls ready for those. That means more sheetrocking. Yay!
All of this renovating cannot go on without some kind of injury. So for this months injury, I give you the "Driving the screw gun into your finger" injury.
It wouldn't have been so bad but I drove it into my carpal tunnel finger. Talk about a new level of pain. I did not cry though. Not until Lisa left the room anyways.

That's it for February. Next week they say that the temps will get into the 30's. I can't wait.

Sunday, January 24, 2021



50 winters I have spent here in the land of rocks and cows. Most winters have been so cold that it makes you wonder why our forefathers settled in this area at all. But I must say that this is one of the mildest January's I have ever experienced here. We have had little snow, hardly any Alberta Clippers blowing in. A few days have been in the 30's. I am so glad that it happened this year, our first winter back in 6 years. It makes winter feel one month shorter and believe me, winters can get very long here.

I am getting much better at removing snow with my tractor. At the start of winter I had my doubts but with lots of practice, I'm getting it done. The hardest part was having the bucket at the right angle so that you don't dig in.

My hand is slowly getting better. I would say that it is at about 52 and 3/16 percent right now.
From this.

To this.
It's been over a month since surgery and I am getting some strength back into my hand which means that we can start to work on the cabin again. First thing I did was to finish hanging the sheetrock in the inside hallway for our firewall. Once that was done Lisa did the mudding for me and she discovered a new talent. She is much better at it than me.
Now that wall is ready for our cedar and steel. However the steel we have for it is buried under the snow at the moment and it really needs to be washed off before we hang it. So that may have to wait until spring. Another project I tackled was to build Lisa a closet for her mink jackets and evening gowns.
Our room is not very big so I had to be careful not to take up too much space. We are going for an industrial look so I used tin on the inside of the closet.
It was slow going with one and a half hands but I finally got it done.
A little bit of trim work to do yet, but it turned out great. 

I know this started out as a travel blog, but it just wasn't in the cards this year. I am definitely getting the itch again. We went to the cities (Minneapolis) a couple of weeks ago to visit my 94 year old father. I remarked to Lisa that I haven't left our super secret undisclosed location since June of last year and Lisa hasn't been anywhere since March when we arrived here. Damn Covid.

We have had some great times with our kids and grandkids though. That is worth it right there. We don't have a bath tub in our cabin, just a shower. Little Virgo likes our shower and we improvised and used a sled so he could play in the shower one day.
And then there is little Audie who has started to walk. He walks like me after I have had a few beers.

That's it for our update. I hope everyone is healthy this year and having a great time wherever that may be.