Construction Journal Entry Week of 1/19/14

1/22-24/14 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Wednesday through Friday.

When I stopped in Monroe to visit Uncle Charles I learned that Mark had taken him to the doctor just five minutes earlier. I was sorry to have missed him. When I arrived at Camp Serendipity at 12:30, it was 30 outside. There was no snow on the ground but there was some new snow under the eaves of the cabin so there had been a little new snow sometime in the past two weeks.

As I approached the cabin, I noticed some unusual tree debris, mostly green Doug Fir boughs, lying on the ground under the roof drip line. Then I noticed a bunch of Doug Fir debris on the porch deck and a lot more on the rock behind the cabin. I climbed up and looked around the corner and saw a huge log leaning over toward the cabin and a big hole in the roof. Another big tree had fallen and hit the cabin.

A 6' by 8' hole had been torn in the eaves between Grid B1 and C1. The top two sections of the plumbing vent stack had also been torn away and the pipe was lying on the ground. I checked the inside of the building and was happy to discover no damage to the inside of the cabin. The damage was all out on the eaves. The cabin was still weather-proof and rodent-proof.

I took some pictures of the damage, then raised the flag, started a fire in the wood stove, and had my lunch. I would have taken a nap, but I realized that if I let the stove heat up, it might warp the 19 boards that were in the rack behind it like it did with the last batch I varnished. So I proceeded to carry all 19 varnished boards out and stack them on the porch deck. Then I took my nap and fell asleep mulling over my plans to fix the roof damage.

When I got up, I moved the ladder in the loft and reconfigured the scaffold up there so I could reach the rafters where the next ceiling board needed to go. I nailed up two ceiling boards before the end of the day.

That evening I described the tree damage to Ellen and she chided me for not getting Robert Ferrel involved earlier to remove all threatening trees before they could fall and do any more damage. We decided that I should call Robert the first thing in the morning.

On Thursday morning, I called Robert before I got out of bed. He agreed to come up and assess the situation at 9:30 that morning. I considered it a wonderful stroke of luck that I was able to get hold of him like that and that he had the time to come up right away.

When Robert arrived, we walked deep into the woods all around the cabin making judgments on what trees were threatening, what the prospects for survival of all the trees were in the face of the wide-spread root rot on the property, the timber value of the trees, and how they could be skidded out and loaded with minimal disruption to the forest and structures.

Very early in our tour, we encountered a huge Doug Fir that had just recently fallen over the trail. Rather than climb over the log and continue up the trail, Robert wanted to walk "the timber highway", that is walk right on top of the downed tree, toward the butt end of the log. He said it was an extra nice and potentially valuable log and he wanted to estimate its size.

As we walked along on the log, I realized that this tree had fallen right across the giant sequoia grove. Of course I was concerned that it might have squashed one or more of the trees. We found all the sequoia trees among the Doug Fir debris and--more serendipity--the big tree had missed all of the sequoias.

From there, we took a trail to the butt of the tree that had fallen on the cabin. It was clear that the tree had been weakened by root rot and that the wind had uprooted the tree.

The trail from there was blocked by yet another big tree and we walked up its trunk the same as before to have a look at the quality of the timber. That brought us to the vicinity of the spring so I took Robert down to see it. I was happy to see that it was undamaged even though there were several nearby trees that were blown over.

We continued the loop talking about strategies for a fairly major logging operation. By the time Robert left, at about 11:30, we had agreed that I would initiate a permit from DNR following the advice Robert had given me and then I would talk to him and Tess about getting the work started. This will be an exciting adventure and I am looking forward to it.

I had my lunch mulling over the dramatic change in plans and priorities I was now facing. My first priority is to fix the roof. The second priority is to do my part in the logging operation. The ceiling boards were now at least third in priority. Thinking about the approaches to these priorities helped me fall asleep for my usual nap.

When I got up, I moved and stacked the debris that had fallen into the space between the cliff and the back of the cabin. I stacked the cabin debris at the back of the porch and I threw the tree debris off the end of the porch down onto the upper roadway. From there I'll probably salvage some of it for firewood, and move the smaller branches to a burn pile or to my compost pile later.

Then it dawned on me that I should make a video before I did any more work so I got the camera out and did some filming.

Next I went to work on the scaffolding that I will need in order to repair the roof. I decided to use the same system that I used to install the ceiling boards in that area so I retrieved the rebar hangers and the 4x4 cross pieces and proceeded to begin setting them up.

To start with, I was able to hang the Grid C hanger by standing on the high rock and reaching the hanger over to engage the outer Grid C1 anchor hook. It helped to have that big log sticking out to hang on to. After doing so much damage, it was good to be able to use that log for something useful.

I tried hanging the Grid B hanger from the high rock, but the hanger is a lot shorter and I couldn't quite reach. So I opened the loft window and was able to hang the hanger by leaning out of the window.

Next, in order to hang the 4x4 cross pieces from the hangers, I was going to need the extension ladder that was in the loft providing part of the scaffolding up there. I carried the ladder down from the loft and set it up on the cliff edge leaning against the cabin next to the Grid B PSL.

With the ladder in place, I was able to hang the 4x4 from the Grid B hanger. The hanger was too short so I used a part of a tire chain to make a loop that extended the reach of the hanger. I guessed at the size of the loop to start with and after getting the 4x4 hanging in place, it was clear that the loop was too short by about 8 inches.

I took the 4x4 down again, and while it was hanging from a ladder rung, I adjusted the chain loop to gain the extra 8 inches. When I hung the 4x4 back up, I was happy to see that this guess was just right and the 4x4 was nearly perfectly level.

After climbing back down to get a couple wrenches, and back up to tighten the lag screw and the hanger bolts, I was very tired and ready to quit when I climbed down for the last time that evening. I hadn't gotten a whole lot done on the repair job yet, but at least I have a start.

On Friday morning, I started out by using the wheelbarrow to haul a huge tarp load of yard waste I had brought from home and I piled it on top of the compost pile. After putting the wheelbarrow away, I went back to work on the new scaffolding.

First I moved the ladder from its spot on the cliff opposite the Grid B PSL over to a spot higher on the cliff so that it leaned up against the cabin next to the Grid C RPSL. Using it in that position I hung the 4x4 from the Grid C hanger, and then lifted the other end and hung it on the lag screw in the RPSL. It was nice being able to reuse this scaffold system with its parts already made and the lag screws already installed.

There was still a little time available to get a start on installing the platform, or deck, spanning the two 4x4s. I started with an 8-foot 1x2. That was light enough that I could lay it in place from up on the ladder simply by reaching over with one hand. Then with the 1x2 in place, I brought up a 2x6 and slid it over to the Grid B 4x4 on top of the 1x2. I can now slide bigger planks across on top of the 2x6 but I was out of time so that will have to wait until next week. When I work on high scaffolds like this, I take my time and make sure that each and every move is safe and that I feel confident that I am not going to make a mistake. Right now, it was time to quit and go home.

I left for home at 12:30. Just as I got to the gate, Bert and Ernie came around the corner. I had a supply of dog biscuits in the truck with me, so I stopped and gave them their expected hugs and biscuits. It was good to see them. On the way through Monroe, I stopped to see Charles and just caught him as he was getting ready to board an excursion bus. I had a brief visit, helped him get on the bus and get his seat belt buckled, and then I left. Next time maybe we can have a longer visit.



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