8/2-4/05 I went up to the property for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.
Before I left, I called the Ranger Station to find out if the fires on Dirtyface had closed the road so I couldn't get in. They told me that if I had proof that I was a property owner, the Sheriff would let me through. Fortunately the fires were a few miles downwind from our property. They had evacuated a few hundred residents in the most threatened area. The Ranger told me that the fire had started with a propane tank blowing up and destroying a mobile home.
When I got a little past the fire station, a deputy stopped me and after checking the address on the pickup registration form let me go through. I stopped a few times along the way to take pictures of the fires. I think I got one pretty good one of a helicopter releasing a big cloud of red fire retardant. I arrived at the property at 1:40. There was no frog in the padlock can.
After lunch, I chinked one seam from Grid E2 to C3. I fed one jay during the process. There was only a faint smell of smoke. The noise of the helicopters overhead continued all afternoon.
On Wednesday, there was a smoky haze over all of the valley that I could see. I could see smoke in the trees and I could smell it. There was no wind and it had evidently been calm all night.
I chinked the seam from Grid C3 to A2. That finished the chinking that needed scaffolding to reach. Before I took the scaffolding down, I did a few odds and ends that were up high. I scraped some varnish off one of the high windows. I varnished some spots behind the columns that had been missed and some other spots that needed touching up. While I was at it, I put another coat of varnish on the two top window sills. Then I cleaned the mortar off the logs between Grid E2 to C3.
By lunch time, there still was no wind and it smelled pretty smoky. After lunch and a nap, the smoke was so thick that I couldn't see any features on Nason Ridge at all. I went to work and cleaned the mortar off the logs from Grid C3 to A2. By late afternoon, a breeze came up and the smoke cleared. There was lots of helicopter traffic all day.
On Thursday morning it was smoky again. Bert stopped by and I gave him a couple of dog biscuits and a few hugs. I hadn't seen him for a long time. He didn't bring Ernie with him. I spent the morning dismantling and stacking the scaffolding, sweeping the floor and then vacuuming the floor. I dug about 5 gallons of ripping sawdust from the old ripping station and used it as sweeping compound. It works great. The sawdust is fairly damp from being on the ground and that moisture binds the mortar and cement dust so that it doesn't fly around when I sweep. I'd recommend that anyone who has to do a lot of ripping, to keep the sawdust for just that purpose. I'm glad I have a big supply up at the ripping station. The ripping sawdust is about the consistency of cornmeal and is just right for sweeping compound if it is a little damp.
I took some pictures of the newly chinked walls and the smoky scene outside. There was still a lot of helicopter traffic when I left for home at 1:45.
©2005 Paul R. Martin, All rights reserved.