Mandan News

Dan Ulmer: The unseen work at the cabin


Dateline 10-26-12 – Tell the boys at Cappuccino on Collins that we had to turn the water off at Lake Tschida last weekend and if they’re lucky I’ll be by in the morning.  This time of year it’s not uncommon for highs to hover around 32 above and lows dip into the teens; thus, it’s time to close up the cabin or re-mortgage our house in town to pay the ensuing Mor Gran Sou electric bill.

So for those of you townfolks who don’t have to suffer these types of personal injuries or could care less about the topic, you might want to check out whatever else Brian put in the paper this week.

Since you’re still reading this, I’ll head on. We arrived mid-Friday afternoon; the temp was 31 degrees with a slight breeze that bit hard enough to confirm that winter has arrived. Noting that the forecast low for the night was 15, we figured it was time to winterize the cabin.  Since none of us enjoy this process, we spent most of the weekend meddling with stuff that needs to be put away or hauled home.

All the batteries need to be removed, lower units drained to winterize the armada of our watercraft. Then it all has to fit in the garage or shed or, if left outside, tarped up. It’s a load of fairy work (work that nobody sees unless it doesn’t get done).

The cabin is the hard part, as we have to remove anything that will blow up when frozen. Years ago we didn’t drain the hot water tank and it not only blew up but it also shattered the wall around it… so this chore is rather critical.

Draining the plumbing doesn’t mean that we can’t use the cabin in winter; however, it does mean that we have to bring water out here in the winter… enough for a couple of flushes. The trick is to make sure you don’t leave the five-gallon jugs outside too long because they freeze up solid. And, as usual, we had to learn this from experience. Nothing more unpleasant than having to answer one’s morning constitutional call in a snow bank… nuf said about that, huh?

Then there were the distractions; like the dozen golf balls I found next to the 7-iron in the shed. During cocktail hour I’ve always found it kinda fun to head down to the front of the cabin and see if I can knock a few balls into the bay. I’d been meaning to whap these into the bay all summer and geez, I hate to leave a project undone, so… I took them down to the front of the cabin and whacked them into the bay.

Of course I didn’t realize that Charlie, my daughter’s brown lab, was there until I whacked the first ball. The ball sailed nicely right into the center of the bay – about 175 yards, and Charlie gave chase. By the time he decided that he’d have to dive to get it, I whacked another into the bay and it plunked down next to him. Noting that Charlie was occupied, I hit the remaining 10 balls. Only a few reached the bay, the rest stymied off trees and posts, a dock, and ended up lying all over the prairie.

I’d had enuf so I put the club away and headed onto other things. In the meantime Charlie, who has become a great fetcher lately, fetched six balls back and left them right where I was teeing off.

So a couple hours later when I came back by the tee box again, I was a bit taken back to find six balls laying there… and I put them back in the shed next to the 7-iron thinking that it might be a nice way to kick off next spring.

And that seemed to be a great way to end another wonder-filled summer at Lake Tschida; that, and the fact that the ground was covered with snow when we pulled out Sunday morning.

Here’s hoping your winter goes by faster than summer did…