Construction Journal Entry Week of 1/1/23

1/2-6/23 I went up to Camp Serendipity for five days: Monday through Friday.

This was an unusual week. I got a late start and then once I was on the road, I took a call from Bill. We had a really nice chat for nearly an hour which was a welcome delay.

The roads were clear and fast, and I arrived at Camp Serendipity at 1:15. The driveway hadn't been plowed since last week, so I parked over the top of the old frozen snow again with no trouble. I brought my gear up in two trips without shoveling off the steps. They were covered in ice and snow, but I could walk on them OK. I hoisted the flag, had my lunch, and my usual nap, and the day was done.

On Tuesday the temperature outside was 22 degrees when I got up. I practiced the piano and then listened to the radio while I thought about what I might do this week. I took a short nap and then Ellen called with some insurance business we had to discuss. Then I got a call from Nancy telling me that Earl was seriously ill and in the hospital. He was expected to die soon. I called Robert and let him know and then I took the truck to Leavenworth and visited Earl.

He was completely unresponsive except for sometimes when it looked like his eyes moved as I spoke. I stayed with him for about a half-hour and then had a nice visit with his sister Debbie.

When I got back, Robert called, and I updated him on Earl's condition. Then I noticed the hot water was not as hot as it should be. I went down to the crawl space and found that the water heater had developed a serious leak and was spraying a big geyser.

I shut off the water as best I could and shut off the breaker to the water heater. The little valve in the cold-water supply wouldn't quite close so there was a dribble of water running, but the crawl space was so wet that it didn't matter. Fortunately, the spray didn't hit any equipment or shelves or boxes it was just all over the ramps and floorboards so it wasn't too bad.

I didn't get a shower that night and I heated water in the teakettle to do dishes and wash up.

On Wednesday the temperature outside was 25 degrees. I called Plain Hardware right away asking about a water heater and was told that they don't sell them. That was a huge disappointment so I asked the person if they knew a place in Leavenworth where I could buy a water heater and she said to hold on the phone. After quite a long wait someone picked up the phone and told me that indeed they did sell water heaters and they had one on hand I could look at. I was delighted. I drove to Leavenworth, bought the water heater for $760, brought it back and then had my lunch and a nap.

When I got up, I unloaded the water heater from the truck and stood it up on the ground. Then I wrapped it up in a tarp and laced it up with a rope. Then I laid it on the ground and tried to pull it with another rope and found that it was too hard to pull through the icy, crusty snow.

I went up to the cabin and got two come-alongs and short chain. I used the come-alongs in tandem to drag the water heater over the snow using various anchors along the way. It worked great. By 4:00 o'clock I had dragged the water heater up the concrete staircase and up the steep snow slope above the concrete stairs. I was really tired, so I quit for the day.

On Thursday morning it was 25 degrees outside and snowing. I went back to work dragging the water heater up to the crawl space stoop where I stood it up. Then I unwrapped the tarp and walked the water heater into the crawl space where I left it sitting on the deck in front of the workbench. Then I went to work on the old water heater to remove it. I needed to drain the water and I had a hard time finding a hose. I went outside with a square nose shovel and excavated the crusty, icy snow to get down to my irrigation hose and dug enough of it out until I reached a connector.

The hose I retrieved was a little too short, so I used another 6 foot section of hose, that had no fitting, to extend it using duct tape to connect them. Then when I tried to drain the tank, the sediment plugged up the drain so it didn't run very well but eventually I got it drained and was able to move the old water heater off the pedestal it was sitting on. Then I installed the new water heater which didn't quite fit because it was a little bigger. But by modifying the restraint and bending the pipes and the electrical conduit I managed to get it installed. At 4:01 PM I turned the water on to fill the new tank. At 4:50 the tank was full, and I turned the power on.

At about this time I got a text message from Earl's sister telling me that Earl had died at 2:30 that day. I was surprised that I was able to get text message service in the cabin. I called Robert and gave him the news. That evening I had a very welcome nice hot shower.

On Friday the temperature outside was 30 degrees I finally got some piano practice in, listened to the radio, had my lunch and left for home at 12:20. It had snowed overnight so it took me until one o'clock to dig the truck out and get on my way. What a week.

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