Winter Update 2023

I've not posted much this winter as I haven't gotten out much despite the unusually mild weather.  That does not, however, mean that I've been idle.  

Winter, for me, is usually a time of planning.  Seeking out-of-the-way places that I'd like to visit, studying maps, figuring out the logistics of solo trips and deciding when to do those trips so that adequate water is available whether that means higher water levels to avoid rivers being too shallow or just being able to find drinking water easily along a trail.

I've mapped out a few hikes and several canoe routes that I'm hoping to do this summer including an overnight river trip that my son seems eager to join, a 3 day trip on a wilderness river in Ohio (yep, there's supposed to be one) and a week plus trip into northcentral Ontario.  The last requires a passport, an outdoor card from Ontario's Fish & Wildlife Service and, of course, reliable transportation to make the 18 hour drive and it is the last of these that's been my focus lately.

As mentioned in my BWCA report, my daily driver for the past 15 years or so has been a 1994 Ford Ranger.  It's been an outstanding vehicle for over 300,000 miles but, according to Luke Combs, maybe all that's about all I should expect.  Honestly, when I noticed a significant loss of power this summer, I thought the end was near.  A quick test of the engine showed that I'd lost compression on two cylinders so 1/3 of the engine was now dysfunctional.  Me being me, however, I continued to drive it while I weighed my options until I noticed it losing even more power.  I didn't do further diagnosis as I already knew the engine was shot but I did look the truck over thoroughly and found the frame and (most of) the body in remarkably good shape for 30 years as a daily driver in PA.

A friend of mine who owns a junk yard had a known good engine, I had some vacation time I had to use or lose and I'd come to the conclusion that I really LIKED not having car payments (I made my last in 1988 and have paid cash ever since) so the decision was made and the work began.  I had quite a few reservations about putting a "new" engine in a 300,000 mile vehicle (some of which were justified) but the rusty, trusty Ranger got a replacement engine, all the bugs (from moving wiring, etc. that had not been moved in 30+ years) got worked out and I am, once again, fully mobile without the lasting debt of a car payment.

I've also been working on the upstairs of my buddy Dave's garage.  He built that garage years ago with the intention of  finishing the upstairs but has never gotten around to it.  I needed a heated space in which to build a canoe (or 5) so the stars aligned and we decided that, if I finish the upstairs, I'd be able to use 1/2 +/-  as a canoe shop

Having gotten the Ranger road-worthy again and the upstairs of the garage somewhat winter-proofed, I began to focus on some projects that were long ago relegated to the back burner...

The first order of business is moving a bunch of wood strips from my Dad's barn to the upstairs of my buddy Dave's garage... but that's a post for the next week or so when I (hopefully) transform all of those wood scraps into a boat for the aforementioned canoe trips this spring and summer.   

I feel very blessed that I can fix things that are broken, I have a few friends that don't mind (much) when I take over their space for a bit and that I can find pleasure in keeping things simple and remaining debt-free.  It truly IS a wonderful life.