Tag Archives: slow travel

Summer School

summer school

We do summer school.

Some homeschoolers take the summer off. We go year round. Some homeschools are structured. Some are completely unstructured. We are semi-structured. What I mean by that is that Yak has a daily list of assignments that he can pursue on his own time, within reason. I want his assignments done by 2 pm because often I will have a project for us to work on together. Usually, these projects are school related. Some days we have a field trip or something to do in the morning, which moves assignments to later in the day. Or even gives him a day off from his assignments.

We do school on Saturdays.

Yak gets his assignments done in 2-3 hours a day, so doing school on Saturdays is not unreasonable. It is a lighter assignment day, though. Usually, we will have some “alternative” schooling going on Saturdays, as well. This also keeps us moving towards finishing up high school requirements. Now we can move on to exploring life skills and possibilities for making a living. Deciding whether or not college will factor in. Did you gasp? Look around. Today’s college grads have lots of debt with student loans but they have to claw their way into any kind of decent job. College is not the solution that it used to be. Unless your student has a clear notion of wanting to enter the medical, legal, or engineering professions.

bike cruisers

So what are some of our alternative schooling and projects?

Learning to cut and fit new light panels in grandpa’s ceiling.

Caulking the bathroom sink.

Brushing, skimming and vacuuming the pool.

Working on mom’s truck: replacing brake lights, fuses, learning to check the fluids.

Fixing up the bikes we got at a yard sale: washing, replacing tires, adjusting brakes.

And more.

Field trips?

We’ve gone to the movies (historical fiction/fact).

Beach.

La Brea Tar Pits

Park days with homeschool group

Escape room

Hiking to Eaton Canyon Falls, San Antonio Falls, Murphy Ranch.

And more.

We document everything and save it in electronic files. Even pictures and videos. Soon I will be deciding how I will structure his portfolio and I will begin putting it together from all this documentation. This way he will have an official record when he decides to apply for college, jobs, or whatever.

In the meantime, it’s summer. I hear the swimming pool calling.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblrFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblr
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinyoutubeinstagramFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinyoutubeinstagram

How to Make a Portable Trailer Skirt

portable trailer skirt

Over the past year, I have improved upon my trailer skirting. I knew I wanted it to be inexpensive, easy-on, easy-off, and compact enough to be easily portable. I think I have finally hit on a working combination. Here is how I made my current Portable Trailer Skirt.

insulation
minimal foam board skirting

When we got the Minnie, we started off with foam board and heat lamps. This necessitated being hooked up to electricity to run the heat lamps. My new skirt keeps the salt-water charged waste tanks thawed down to zero. Then it’s time for some supplemental heat down there. Or preferably a move to warmer temps.

trailer skirt supplies

Materials for the Portable Trailer Skirt:

Putting it together:

cutting tarp in snow

1. Cutting the tarp down to size.

My trailer measures 8’ x 26’ plus the tongue, which holds the house battery and 2 propane tanks. I figured I might want the tarps to wrap around those as well, so I estimated a
length of 80 feet, just to have some wiggle room. I cut the tarp into 5 strips measuring 3’ x 20’. To do this, I had to open it up outside. There was snow on the ground at the
time, so the tarp stayed fairly clean. I had my son stand on it to help hold it down and help fold up each piece as we went. We also used rocks to help hold the tarp down as I
cut.

tarp on sewing machine

2. Sewing on the bubble wrap.

The bubble wrap was only 12” wide, so I had to sew 3 tiers onto each strip of tarp. This was the most tedious part of the project. I was also concerned that it would be hard on
my sewing machine, but it did fine. I had to clean the tarp dust out frequently and had to be careful not to catch the presser foot on the bubble wrap, but otherwise, it was
straight seams and easing the bulk through the machine.

3. Black paint.
After sewing on all the bubble wrap, the next step was to paint the outside of the skirting black. This is to absorb more sun and help retain the heat around the trailer. It is very
windy where we usually are, so I had to wait for a still day to get the paint to stick to the tarps instead of floating away.

 applying reflectix trailer skirt

We first tried attaching the tarp with velcro, but the wind made short work of that. We also found the addition of Reflectix insulation to be a major factor in keeping the temps under the trailer more stable. First, we stand the Reflectix around the perimeter of the trailer. Over that goes the portable trailer skirt.

back of trailer skirt

I looked at what other people were doing with trailer skirts and liked the idea of attaching it with turn buttons. Amazon had them listed so I ordered 2 dozen and my son-in-law helped me to install them. I put the grommets on my tarp and attached it to the trailer turn buttons. It stayed on perfectly, but I now discovered that I needed to seal up the loose ends. This was a much better use of the velcro and keeps the wind from whipping the skirt up and blowing the Reflectix away.

Finally, around all this, we place our heavy tent weights, our extra sewer tank, and propane tank just for extra insurance in case the wind blows. If the temps dip below zero or stay below 30F for several days we still have to break out the heat lamps, but the skirting is doing its job and helping us stay warm and cozy.

And the best part about the Portable Trailer Skirt is that it comes off easy, rolls right up (both the skirt and the Reflectix), and stows away in the back of the truck or in the basement when it’s not needed.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblrFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblr
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinyoutubeinstagramFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinyoutubeinstagram

Jackson Stables Trail Ride, Estes, CO

trail ride

Trail rides are a great way to enjoy horseback riding. Especially if you don’t have time, money or facilities to own your own horse. Well kept grounds and large paddocks characterize Jackson Stables. Uniquely located in the YMCA camp complex in Estes Park, CO and right outside Rocky Mountain National Park, it is an ideal spot to begin a trail ride. Confident, well-trained guides pair visitors with well groomed, stout and healthy looking horses. Each with a unique personality and good temperament.

Our guide, Liz, was a friend of my daughter from college, who was working at the stables for the summer. Guests can ride, rain or shine. As a matter of fact, guides are trained to deal with the frequent summer storms. Additionally, horses carry rain slickers for guests. Moreover, several areas are earmarked for waiting out inclement weather. Apparently, the horses are used to such situations. Liz told us that they rarely have a problem during the storms.

My daughter’s ride was Otis, a stunning black and white paint, for the more experienced rider. Not only do horses pick up on nervousness and inexperience but some will also see how much they can get away with. Of course, Otis picked up on her confidence and performed flawlessly.

Likewise, Yak drew Dallas, a slow, deliberate buckskin. His only mischief was grabbing mouthfuls of the tall grass growing alongside the trail.

In contrast, my mount was John. John was in much more of a hurry than anyone else. Apparently, our trail ride interrupted his break. While the first half of the trail was fine, John seemed to sense when I got tired. As a result, he decided to have a little fun with me. Almost before my legs got tired of holding on, seems like his trot became more like a bouncy room. With no padding. After a few trots, John and I came to a compromise and I was able to survive the rest of the ride. I definitely need to ride more often.

For the most part we enjoyed  partial cloud cover and temps in the mid-seventies. The trail through Rocky Mountain National Park winds through pine and aspen groves, past streams and waterfalls and along some spectacular view points.

Although Jackson Stables is located in the YMCA camp, YMCA membership is not necessary to use the facilities. The 2-hour ride is $55 per person. They accept credit cards. Tip the guide with cash.

Jackson Stables, Inc.
YMCA of the Rockies Livery
Allen and Julie Jackson, Owners
PO Box 20549
Estes Park, CO 80511

SUMMER PHONE:
(970) 586-3341,
ext. 1140/1149

WINTER PHONE:
(970) 586-6748
(Nov.1 – March 3)

FAX:
(970) 577-1401

EMAIL:
info@JacksonStables.com

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblrFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblr
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinyoutubeinstagramFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinyoutubeinstagram

My New Favorite Way to Can Tomatoes

canning tomatoes
my new favorite home canned tomato sauce
Over the summer, I got a case of tomatoes at the farmer’s market and they were so tasty that I decided I needed to save some for over the winter. Sun drying was out of the question. Too much rain and too much humidity. So, I decided to make sauce and can it. My previous sauces have been too watery, so this time I tried a new approach. Lydia from Lydia’s kitchen, says the tomato seeds can make the sauce bitter, so I quartered and seeded them and filled 2 pots with the pieces, skin and all. I cooked them down for 2 or 3 hours, then let them sit overnight to cool, so I could put them through the blender. The next morning, I processed the cooked tomatoes in a high speed blender on the smoothie setting for a couple minutes, including the skins, which were now soft. I poured the thick, rich sauce back into the pots and cooked it down to half.
canning jars
boiling canning jars to sterilize
The following day, I heated the sauce, sterilized jars, filled them and capped them. I processed them in a boiling water bath for the amount of time indicated by the Ball Blue Book for 7800 ft. elevation.
ball blue book of canning
ball blue book of canning
This is my new favorite way to preserve tomatoes. Sadly, we have already used up all the sauce for spaghetti, pizza, and soup. The good news is, I seemed to have cooked out enough of the water for the sauce to stay thick. The flavor was incredible. I think next season I will be getting several cases of those tomatoes.
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblrFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblr
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinyoutubeinstagramFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinyoutubeinstagram

Keepin’ up with Fresh Foods

In my commitment to eating as many fresh veggies as possible, I have run into a snag. That is that many times I do not eat up the veggies before they begin to spoil. I have a compost bucket, but these veggies still cost money. Money that is very tight right now. So I want to make sure I’m buying enough, but not too much and that I use it up before it goes bad.

100_3074
Chinese cabbage and green beans fermenting

 I have not tried fermenting fruits yet, but I have had great results with veggies. So much so that I am now fermenting veggies instead of canning them. The fermentation process preserves many more of the nutrients than heat sealing them in a canning jar, tomatoes excepted, as they are more nutritious cooked.

100_3068
Tomatoes from an Amish couple at the farmer’s market. Made canned tomato sauce.

Fermenting veggies is easy. I boil a quart of water, add 3 tablespoons of sea salt and stir to dissolve. After this has cooled, I add veggies and place a ziplock bag of brine (the same salt water) on top, which seals out air. It needs to be checked daily for any slime or mold. Sometimes the ziplock needs to be wiped off or refilled. When the contents of the jar are done fermenting after a few weeks, I transfer them to smaller jars with tight fitting lids and store in cool cupboards. Always check for signs of spoilage before using home preserved (or even store bought) items.

Fermenting is great for most veggies. Cabbage (think sauerkraut), beets, green beans, summer squash, corn, onions, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and so many more veggies are great fermented.

100_3070
Did you know yogurt is fermented milk?

For leafy greens, though, eating fresh is about the only option. If my greens are a little wilty, I soak them in a tub of cool water for several hours and return them to the fridge. This usually crisps them up for a few more days until we can get them eaten. If your greens are not lettuce, but collards, beet greens, cabbage or other sturdy greens, they can be stir fried in a little oil or bacon fat and eaten hot. This is very yummy and we try to have fried greens on a regular basis. As far as the lettuces, though, I’m afraid if they are no longer appealing, the only alternative is the compost bin. Unless you have farm critters. Chickens, pigs and the like love scraps.

100_3052

Squash is another veggie that can easily become overwhelming. As a starchy veg, our bodies don’t need as much of it as they do the lighter, leafy veggies. Squash is really satisfying in the cold weather, however. Hard squashes, such as pumpkin, acorn, butternut and the like can be stored in a cool basement or a corner of the kitchen that stays cool. Check weekly for soft spots or spoilage and keep them dry. They can also be cooked until soft and canned for making pies and puddings later. I don’t like freezing any kind of squash unless it is shredded, such as for zucchini bread, because it tends to come out of the freezer mushy and tasteless. For summer squash I like fermenting or drying. For fermenting, cut into spears, slices or chunks. For drying, thin slices are best. These can be salted or seasoned before drying, for snack chips, or dried plain, to be added to winter soups and stews.

 I hope this has given you a few new ideas or reminded you of some old ways to keep up with your harvest of fresh foods and make good use of them before they spoil. I try to keep my cooking and preserving simple, so no complicated recipes here. Got no time for that. But you can preserve healthy foods quickly and easily, without spending all day in the kitchen. It just takes some forethought and getting into the habit.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblrFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblr
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinyoutubeinstagramFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinyoutubeinstagram