Scout Work

We are still here in California working on year end business.  Rick is also working on the Scout.  It is the perfect utility vehicle for the ranch, but it is also 48 years old.  As a person of this same vintage, I can attest that a little maintenance is necessary to keep things working well.


He took off the springs and replaced them with the ones from the “parts” Scout along with new lift shackles.


He sanded and cleaned the old springs.


A few coats of rustoleum enamel not only make it look nicer, it protects it from rust.  Not a big problem in California since it doesn’t rain here, but it is a concern in Washington.  96 inches of rain per year can cause a lot of rust!


He has also changed the wheels and tires.  Here are the wheels and tires it came with.


Here are the new ones.


Rick says this is only so it will have better clearance and get better traction – but I think he just liked the more rugged look.


You could poke your finger through the inside of the original tailgate – it was rusted through.


So we had the old tailgate from the “parts” Scout welded up and re-painted to put on this one.   It does help to have two old ones to make one whole one.


As good as new.


Now he’s working on replacing the engine.  He got the old one out.


Rick had the old engine from the “parts” Scout re-built so it is ready to go in this one.


Rick has also done a few other repairs.  He put in a new gas spout – the old one leaked all the gas out if you put more than 2 gallons of gas in it.  This was not only annoying, but expensive and definitely dangerous.

He also has plans to put in a new headlight switch.  The old one works most of the time – unless you go over a bump.  Then the lights go out.  A bit of a problem driving at night.  He is even talking about putting on a windshield wiper on the passenger side.  Currently there is only one on the driver side.   It may be so fancy we won’t want to use it.

Power On

You can see what a mess the mudslides left.

Guardrail and power lines tied up by Washington State Dept of Transportation.

One of the mudslides was so big that it tore out 1,500 feet of guardrail and ripped down several power poles and lines. You can see the guardrail and power lines entangled together at the bottom of the hillside, near the river.

Power company at work by Washington State Dept of Transportation.

Damaged power pole and lines.

Guardrail ripped out by Washington State Dept of Transportation.

The WSDOT – Washington State Department of Transportation – worked getting the mud off the roadway.  Puget Sound Energy worked on getting the utility poles back up.

Power company at work by Washington State Dept of Transportation.

The original estimate was two weeks, but they managed to get the roadway cleared (at least one lane) and the power back on in about 9 days.

Guardrail ripped out by Washington State Dept of Transportation.

Broken guardrail posts. The mudslide ripped the guardrail right off.

So, the ranch and eastern Skagit County has power on again.  Thanks to our friends John and Caleb, the meat in our freezer is still frozen.

Cleanup Begins

SR 20 - Closed Near Hamilton by Washington State Dept of Transportation.

The rain has stopped, or at least slowed down, which has allowed cleanup to begin.  Marblemount received a little over 7 inches of rain in a 24 hour period.  This in addition to the approximately four feet of snow on the ground; about ten inches of that melted.  All of that is a LOT of water.  Generally it all soaks in, but coming so fast it mostly ran off.  Which caused a lot of damage.

Mudslides on SR 20 by Washington State Dept of Transportation.

An aerial view of the Skagit river with Hwy. 20 on the right.

Mudslides on SR 20 by Washington State Dept of Transportation.

One of the mudslides that covered the highway.  This one is about 15 miles west (downriver) of the ranch.

Mudslides on SR 20 by Washington State Dept of Transportation.

In addition to covering the road with mud, trees and debris, the slides took out the power poles and lines.  You can just see a little of the line dangling like a necklace in the bottom of the picture.

Mudslides on SR 20 by Washington State Dept of Transportation.

So, the power has been out since Tuesday for everyone east of this slide.  That includes Rockport and Marblemount and everyone else upriver from here.

Crews start clearning mud from SR 20 by Washington State Dept of Transportation.

The crews are working on clearing the roadway, but the hillsides are still saturated and very unstable.

Crews start clearning mud from SR 20 by Washington State Dept of Transportation.

The optimistic estimate is another two weeks until the road is open and power is restored.

Crews start clearning mud from SR 20 by Washington State Dept of Transportation.

In the meantime, it is a good thing we have a generator!  Our friends have been over to our place and checked on it for us.  They started the generator which will allow our freezer (full of food) and refrigerator to run for a few hours.  Hopefully it will be enough to keep all the food from spoiling.

Crews start clearning mud from SR 20 by Washington State Dept of Transportation.

In addition to the big mudslides, there are several places where the creeks or rivers just washed over the road.  In some places all the pavement must be replaced as the water washed out the ground under the roadway.

SR 20 - Closed Near Hamilton by Washington State Dept of Transportation.

The good news is that the ranch and our buildings are all high and pretty dry and were not damaged by the flooding.  A lot of folks in that area were not nearly so fortunate.


Western Washington is experiencing heavy flooding.  Unfortunately flooding is pretty common in that area.  2007 was the last major flood with the major damage south of Seattle near the Chehalis river.  That time I-5 was closed for six days.

When last we spoke with our neighbors (Tuesday), the ranch and most of Marblemount is high if not dry.  Lots of snow! Well over four feet on the ground.  Our new porch cover was sagging under the snow load and ready to buckle but our wonderful friends John and Caleb cleared all the snow off for us.  Perhaps that roof was not engineered quite sturdy enough?

And now rain.  Over 7 inches in 24 hours! No flooding at the ranch.  The locals refer to that kind of warm rain as the “Pineapple Express” as it comes directly from Hawaii.    Flooding usually hits below us as the Cascade, Sauk and Baker rivers flow into the already swollen Skagit river around Concrete and below.  There are lots of mudslides to report.  Hwy 20 is closed in at least three places between the ranch and “civilization” as Megan puts it.

House Collapse and Hwy 20  Concrete

Hwy 20 closure due to a mudslide in Concrete.  This is about 15 miles below the ranch.  Hwy 20 is the main – actually only – highway in the North Cascades and runs east from I-5 following the Skagit River.  With this road closed local traffic is cut off from the services below.

Here is the official Washington State DOT version of events:

SR 20 – Multiple mudslides have spilled across SR 20 near Concrete, tearing out concrete barrier, guardrail, and power poles and leaving a half-mile of mud and debris in their wake. The road is closed indefinitely from Concrete (milepost 90) to Jackman Creek Road (milepost 91). WSDOT will move as quickly as possible to hire a contractor and clear the road. Work cannot begin until the slope stabilizes, which could take several days. It is too early to determine the extent of the damage, but the work could take a week or more to complete.

House Collapse and Hwy 20  Concrete

This is the house that collapsed on a woman in Concrete Wednesday. Neighbors rescued her by using a car jack.  Here is the news story:

CONCRETE, Wash. — A woman survived a ride she’ll never forget as her home plunged down a hillside in this Skagit County town late Wednesday morning.

Diane Bergsma, 66, says she was sitting in her home with her two dogs on her lap, next to a roaring fire in her fireplace when the hillside gave way.

“It felt like an earthquake,” she said. “I thought I was dead.”

The slide sent her, her dogs, and her home along a wave of mud and water about 15 feet over then 20 feet down to the valley below near Dillard and Division streets.

The home then landed on her son’s car.

Over 3 ft. of Snow

This is a house in Concrete with all the snow before the warmer rains started.  You can see why our porch roof was sagging. 

HWY 530 near Darrington.  About 15 miles SW of the ranch.

Near Burlington. This is the town about 45 miles below us on I-5 we go down to every 2 to 3 weeks to get our groceries and supplies. The Skagit river flows into Puget Sound just below this.   The local Costco – our favorite store – is about a mile from where this picture was taken.

An Avalanche

Hwy. 20 above us that winds over the Cascade mountains and passes into eastern Washington is  closed seasonally.  Usually around the first part of December – though depending on the weather sometimes by Thanksgiving – until April or May.

Here is why:

SR 20 - Snow Slide by Washington State Dept of Transportation.

This avalanche – or snow slide – (I wonder what the difference is?) occurred about 13 miles up the road from us last winter.

SR 20 Snow Slides by Washington State Dept of Transportation.

This was a a huge slide  that brought down rocks and trees and was 40 feet high over the highway. 

For more photos of this slide, click on the  link below.

Construction Begins

The ranch – and most of the Pacific Northwest – has been hit by several storms in the last couple of weeks.  It has been a snowy winter thus far.  Currently there is over three feet of snow on the ground with drifts well over six feet.  snow

These photos are from last winter when there was probably 8 – 10 inches of snow on the ground.  Now another two feet!  I wish we could be there to see it.    Our friend John has been keeping an eye on the place for us while we are away.  He wasn’t able to get in with his Bobcat and had to get a loader to clear the driveway.


So, while the ranch is snowed in and we are still in California, we will take you back to fall when we started construction on our new garden shed / chicken coop.


The boundaries are staked out.  You can see the remains of our summer garden.

Rick dug out the whole foundation by hand with his shovel – not.


He had quite a bit of help from John and his excavator.  Imagine trying to dig that whole thing by hand – in all those rocks!


A load of gravel was delivered for the foundation.


John dumped scoops of gravel with his Bobcat and Rick spread it around.


John dug a trench to tie in the utilities from near the mobile home out to the new shed.  We managed to find the phone cable first thing, it was only about 6 inches deep.


Amazingly enough, Rick wired most of the wires back together and both the phone and fax worked like that for three weeks until the service guy came out and fixed it.