Construction Journal Entry Week of 3/24/13

3/26-28/13 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

On the way up, I stopped in and visited with Uncle Charles. While I was there, Mark, Kurt, He-son, and Josh showed up for a visit. We had a nice chat and I had a group picture taken.

From there, I proceeded on and drove directly to Leavenworth and stopped to talk with Terry Hagen at the Cabinet Design shop. I got some drawings of my cabinets and I learned some things about cabinet and counter-top installation.

From there, I proceeded on to Cashmere where I stopped in at Moonlight Tile & Stone. I talked with Joe, the proprietor, about my requirements, gave him my drawings, and looked at samples of stone that he had. His wife, Stacy, explained sink options and told me that she would email a brochure showing the choices of sinks. I explained to them that my cabin was inaccessible at the moment and that there were weight limit restrictions in place on the road, so we would have to schedule any work for a month or two out. That fit with their workload. I told them that I would let them set the schedule and that I was in no particular hurry. Stacy said that she would put a bid together and email it to me.

I proceeded on from there to Camp Serendipity and arrived at 3:20. I had a small lunch and a short nap and then went outside with my chainsaw. The snow had melted back and exposed a lot of branches and logs that I cut away to make the trail from the truck to the stairs better and safer and I was able to enlarge the parking area a little bit. My back was pretty sore by the time I quit.

About 9:00 in the evening I stepped outside and was pleased to hear a very loud din coming from what sounded like millions of frogs across the road. That was a nice sound.

On Wednesday, I decided to spend the day trying to find and uncover Chuck, the giant sequoia tree I had transplanted and which had gotten caught up on the root ball of the big ponderosa pine that had uprooted and fallen across the driveway and the road.

I started with an axe, which I sharpened on a grinder, and the "warthog", a special narrow shovel which I thought would be perfect for digging dirt out from around the tangled roots of the tree. Those tools did work well, but as time went on, I went back up to get a regular spade, a chainsaw, and a spud.

I attacked the root ball from every angle I could. I dug dirt out from between the roots and threw it in the huge hole that the root ball had come out of. I used the axe to cut away the exposed roots, and then dug out more dirt.

When the roots I was cutting got to be 4 or 5 inches in diameter, the progress slowed. I switched to digging the dirt away from the downhill side of the root ball and throwing it up into the hole. It seemed to me that the sequoia tree should have been pushed downhill, and since it was about 6 feet high, it should have been within 6 feet of the root ball. I dug down through 18 inches or so and got down to the original surface duff and found no trace whatsoever of the sequoia tree.

I figured it must be right under the thick part of the root ball and I decided to try to cut that part of it away. Starting at the top of the root ball, and using the warthog and a spud, I scraped the dirt, rocks, and bark off the big root to clean a couple of strips where I planned to make saw cuts. The idea was to try to avoid any dirt in the wood so I wouldn't dull my chain.

When I had the nice clean strips prepared, I started sawing. It went well for the first 6 inches or so, and then it slowed. It was obvious that my chain was getting dull fast. I got my files and sharpened the chain up again and went back to work.

The same thing happened. The saw cut nicely for a few inches and then bogged down because it was dull. I went through another iteration of sharpening and sawing and finally realized that there must be a bunch of dirt and grit embedded right in the root wood. I estimated that to continue on the same plan I was looking at many days of hard work just to cut that chunk of root away. And then, there was no guarantee that I would find the sequoia tree.

I went in for lunch and a nap feeling very disappointed. I wasn't sure how to proceed. On my way back up to the cabin I noticed a huge widowmaker hanging straight down right over the staircase. It looked very dangerous.

After my nap, I got a long rope and spent quite a while throwing the rope up over the widowmaker trying to hook it so I could pull it down. I snagged it a couple times but I couldn't pull it loose. On the third try, I got a tight noose around the widowmaker and pulling from a different angle I was able to pull it down.

I was downhill at the time and this thing was the straight top of the tree and was about 15 feet long. When it hit the staircase it was straight up and I didn't know which way it was going to fall. If it came toward me I was going to have to dodge it somehow but it went over to the side and missed me. I was sure glad to have that thing down.

Next, while I had the chainsaw out and since the weather was so good, I decided to cut away more of the debris that was blocking my driveway. I cut away some logs and branches and then went back to work trying to find Chuck, the giant sequoia.

I concentrated on digging the ground trying to find some trace of the branches of the tree and had no success. Realizing that it would take a huge amount of effort to find and possibly rescue the tree, I decided to give up. I felt bad for having to give up, but it didn't seem worth it. I went in for the night very sore and tired.

On Thursday morning I bundled up some old drywall remnants and bagged it in trash bags. It had been stored in the bedroom and my plan was to begin laying the flooring in the bedroom next. After clearing everything out of the bedroom closet and vacuuming the floor in there, I got a start laying the flooring by fitting it around the ventilation pipe that is in the closet. I left for home at 1:15 excited about moving on to such a visible project as the bedroom flooring.

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