Christmas Off-the-Grid, Part IV

Christmas Day, indoors.

It was cold on Christmas morning. 17°F outside and 53°F inside.

The heater was running at full blast, but it couldn’t keep up with the cold coming in through the cracks and crevices in the building’s joints. The blinds couldn’t keep the cold air from permeating though the single-pane windows. The plywood floor with its foam insulation radiated cold from the space beneath the building.

Up on the loft, it was nice and toasty. But we couldn’t stay up there all day.

I turned on the oven, partially to help out the heater and partially to warm up some apple pie for breakfast. The batteries had 11.7 volts stored, so I used my one-cup electric coffee maker to brew a cup of coffee. I heated Alex’s scrambled eggs on the heater.

It was a typical winter morning at Howard Mesa.

But it was also Christmas.

After breakfast, we started making our calls to family on the right coast. Mike called his mom, but was disconnected three times. His Razr phone doesn’t seem to get as strong a connection as my Treo. So he used the Treo.

I called my mother’s house in Florida where my mom, stepfather, sister, brother, and sister-in-law had gathered for the holiday. I talked to my mom, who thanked me for the Shark steamer I’d sent her. Then I talked to my stepdad, who was extremely excited about the Oregon Scientific weather station I’d sent him. Finally, I talked to my sister, who said she couldn’t wait to try out the iPod I’d sent her. I explained that she needed to copy the songs to her computer so she could put them on the iPod and yes, she would have to plug the iPod into her computer to charge it.

Mike made a few more calls: his brother, his sister, his uncle. He got a few more: his niece, his cousin.

Then we settled down to open the few presents we’d brought with us to Howard Mesa. I got a copy of Microsoft Flight Simulator and a new pair of slippers from my brother and sister-in-law. Both were on wish lists I’d shared with my family. (My sister ordered my presents on Christmas Day.) Mike got an aviation communications training software program from me. I suspect that there might be a few boxes on our doorsteps at home.

Outside, the wind started up. We could hear it whistling around the building. My 13-knot windsock spent most of the day stuck straight out. A thick cloud that had shrouded the San Francisco Peaks right after sunrise finally broke free and drifted off to the east. The sky was perfectly clear, the sun was bright. Although the temperature outside never topped 34°F, it got up to 76° in the cabin.

We stayed inside all day. I read the instrument training materials I’d brought along with me. I’m going for my instrument rating next month and have begun studying. For a while, Mike and I studied the Low Altitude En Route charts, trying to figure out what the heck all those symbols and numbers meant. (I know a lot more about those charts now than I knew last week.) Mike read Smithsonian magazine, which he’d brought along with him.

I made pot pies for lunch — another reason to use the oven. I also got dinner started. I made braised leg of lamb, which would simmer all day. The shed smelled very good.

Near the end of the day, Mike commented that it was the first time he’d spent a whole day relaxing in a very long time.

Dinner was good (if I do say so myself). We ate right after sunset. The temperature outside dropped rapidly once the sun was gone and began to dip inside, too. We played Scrabble before calling it a night. It was 12°F outside when we called it a night.

We stayed inside.

One thought on “Christmas Off-the-Grid, Part IV

  1. “Granny J” in Prescott recommended your site to my daughter in law, because of Howard Mesa, which my daughter in law comments on in her blog. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog as we have property in Four Hills. We do not live on it,unfortunately, and have not built anything on it yet, not even a shed. But it’s nice to see what life is like in that beautiful place. We moved to Prescott to be closer to the property, so we can at least drive up there and look at it. Keep writing, I love it.

What do you think?