Construction Journal Entry Week of 3/14/10

3/16-18/10 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

I arrived at noon on a bright sunny day. I was able to drive the truck right up to the trailer and was promptly greeted by Bert and Ernie. The snow was almost gone so I put on my regular work shoes instead of Sorel boots for the first time this year.

I moved my stuff into the trailer and then went up and built a fire in the cabin stove while the trailer was warming up. Just as I was headed back down to the trailer for lunch, Earl hailed me from the top of the concrete staircase. He had just returned from Palm Springs and had come over to check on my wintertime progress.

We had a nice visit in the cabin as he looked over what I had done. Then I invited him down to the trailer for a cup of coffee and lunch. He said that he had just finished his lunch but heíd have coffee while I had my lunch.

He is looking very good Ė noticeably better than the last time I saw him. He said that his neurologist is amazed at his progress and told him to keep doing whatever he is doing. I took a picture of him having his coffee.

After he left, I went to work and bored a four-inch hole for the vent pipe in the Grid 1 log wall in line with the bathroom 2x6 stud wall. As I hoped and expected, I didnít hit a rebar pin in the process. When I finished, I called Action Plumbing and left a message for Mark that I had finished boring the hole and we could now schedule the plumbing work. I also called Earl and told him that he had left his hat in the trailer. I said Iíd drop it off on my way home if he didnít want to come back to get it.

On Wednesday, first thing in the morning, Mark called and told me that one of his workers was sick and that they wouldnít be able to start this week. I told him that was OK and to call me later to schedule the work.

After breakfast, I built a fire in the cabin stove and then set to work harvesting more firewood. I bucked up the entire top half of the grand fir log that Robert Ferrel had falled for me on 8/27/09.

Since the weather was warm and dry, and most of the snow was gone from under the eaves at the west (Grid A3) corner of the building, I decided it was the perfect time to clean up that area. Ever since 10/29/96, when I bucked up an entire 40 foot log, #71, into four-foot lengths because it was rotten to the core for its entire length, that area had been used to store log remnants. It was also the site of my winch shed which I built on top of the sections of #71. The winch cable had run from there through the crawlspace door and then through pulleys up to the top of the crane boom and back down.

Late last summer I had covered the pile of log remnants with a tarp to keep it dry. My intent was to use the sound wood as firewood and try to use it up before the snow covered the pile up for the winter. That plan worked very well because I had used almost every burnable piece of wood from there before the snow fell. What was left was totally rotten and crumbly.

Now that the snow was gone, I figured this was the perfect time to finally dispose of that pile. Since Mark was not coming up, I had a spare day; the weather was perfect; and the bugs, ants, and whatever else might be living in that rotten wood pile were still asleep. So I stretched the tarp out to dry in the sun and then set to work with a spade and shoveled the whole mess of rotten wood over the cliff.

Most of the time I could shovel out scoops of rotten wood just as if it were loose dirt. Some of the time there would be bigger intact pieces of rotten wood which I would deliberately throw down onto a rock outcropping in the cliff where the chunk of wood would then shatter into a bunch of rotten pieces. The only animal I saw during the process was one centipede. The rest of them must still have been asleep.

It was gratifying to finally see again the surfaces of the big rocks I had used to pave that area, which I hadnít seen since 1996. It will now again be possible for the first time since then to drive vehicles up past the cabin. I was very happy to get that job done.

Next, I got the wheelbarrow out and hauled five loads of the bucked up wood down to the cabin and piled it under the eaves. Then I went in for lunch and a nap.

After my nap, I decided to try to figure out what to use for scaffolding to install the vent pipe on the outside of the gable wall. I carried one steel scaffold frame back there and set it up against the wall between Grid B1 and C1. I was thinking I could set a second tier up with one frame on top of that one and the other frame on the cliff. But it looked like the cliff might be too close. I got a tape and measured how wide a scaffold tier is, learned that it is seven feet wide, and I was about to go back again and measure the distance from the wall to the cliff at the height of the first frame. At that moment Earl showed up again at the top of the stairs.

We talked about the scaffolding problem for a while and in the process, at Earlís suggestion, I decided to abandon the idea of using the steel frames. Instead I will use my tried-and-true home-made scaffold brackets that bolt to the walls.

Earl and I then went down to the trailer so he could get his hat. I fixed a couple cups of coffee and we had another nice chat. We talked about wiring up the pump in the dosing tank and I told him that I had been given some parts when the tank was installed but had never looked at them.

I got them out and opened the boxes for the first time. One was the control box for the pump and another smaller box that looked like a waterproof junction box. I remember Mike handing that smaller box to me but I didnít know what it was for. There was an instruction sheet and a wiring diagram in the bigger box. Earl and I looked at the diagrams and the box and sort of figured out some of it, but it was a lot more complicated than I had expected. Earl said that for that kind of wiring, he hired it out instead of doing it himself. That started sounding like good advice to me.

After Earl left, I got the spade back out and uncovered the lid to the septic tank, which is full of water, and I uncovered the pipe stub where the drain needs to be attached. Then I uncovered the lid to the dosing tank and took the lid off. When I looked down into the tank I became even more convinced that I should contract out the wiring job. I didnít understand much of what I saw down there. I took some pictures of the inside of the tank so I could show them to people to get some advice on what to do. Then I put the lid back on and screwed it down.

I went in for the night and had my dinner. At about 8:00 all the lights went dim and stayed that way. I turned off my DVD player which still seemed to work but I didnít want to take any chances. Thinking it might be a problem with the wiring in the trailer, I went back up to the cabin and checked the lights there. They were all dim too.

Back down at the trailer I called the PUD outage line and all circuits were busy. Then I got out my meter and measured the voltage at 50 Volts AC.

In another ten minutes the power went out altogether so everything was black. I called the PUD and learned that the power was out and expected to be restored at 11:30. So I went to bed.

Ellen called about 9:15 and while we were talking, the power came back on. It stayed on from then on.

On Thursday morning I had to leave early to be at a dentist appointment in Bothell at 12:30. After breakfast, I went up to the cabin to close things up, then I packed up and left for the dentist at about 10:15. Bert and Ernie showed up for their hugs and biscuits before I left.

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