Construction Journal Entry Week of 2/5/17

2/7-10/17 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 4 days: Tuesday through Friday.

On the way, I stopped in to see Marilyn and George and to deliver some merchandise I had picked up for them. A nurse happened to be there helping George with his recovery from his stroke. I was happy to see that he is making good progress.

I arrived at Camp Serendipity at 12:30. There had been 2 feet of snow the day before but Josh had cleared my driveway so I could drive right in. I could tell it was Josh, though, because he doesn't make the lanes as wide as Mike does. What that means is that when I park the truck, either at the hairpin turn or at the foot of the concrete staircase, I can barely open the door enough to get out of the truck. Then I have to get my scoop and shovel enough snow away from both sides of the truck so that I can walk around it. With the snow about 3 feet deep, that is a lot of shoveling. And having done that, I then have to get to the cabin somehow.

This time I parked at the hairpin turn and used the snowshoes to make a trail up to the cabin. That was tough going because my snowshoes would sink in over a foot with each step.

With the trail made, I brought my gear up, hoisted the flag, built a fire in the stove, and had my lunch and a welcome nap. When I got up I split a bunch of firewood and then shoveled the snow off the concrete staircase. I took my shovel down and started at the bottom which requires less stooping over. The snowbanks on each side are so high that you have to throw the snow pretty high to get it up on top without having it avalanche right back down. It's hard work.

When I went in for my shower, I surprised a little shrew that scurried around trying to get away. He was in the bathroom behind the toilet and there was nowhere for him to run. I took the small yogurt container I use to capture insects and spiders and tried to catch the shrew. It was very quick so when I brought the yogurt container down over him, I missed and hit him with the edge of it. I didn't think I had hurt him, but when I carried him outside to let him go, he was already dead. Poor little guy.

On Wednesday morning Dave called first thing and we had a delightful conversation. Then Ellen called and we discussed plans for the next scout visit to Camp Serendipity that will happen the weekend from the next.

When I hoisted the flag I could see that I needed another cleat higher up on the flagpole. The one I was using was right down at the snow level. So I made another cleat higher up by driving in two 16d nails. Next I decided to move the truck in case it snowed again before I left. I turned it around by backing into the small space Josh had left, and parked it at the foot of the concrete stairs heading out.

Here again, the lane was so narrow that I could barely get out of the truck and I had to spend nearly an hour digging the snow away all around the truck so that I could get around it and open the doors. Then I shoveled off the three or four inches of new snow that had fallen overnight from the concrete staircase, again starting at the bottom. Then I split some more firewood, and had my lunch and a nap.

When I got up, I went out and worked on the front stair rail. It was held in place by ropes and a bracket in the knuckle notch but I rechecked the measurements to make sure it was in its correct and final position. Then with the bottom of the rail lashed against the scab log, I scribed the scab log for a notch. And then I began forming the notch using a hammer, chisel, and gouge.

It snowed all day so by nightfall another 8 inches was accumulated.

On Thursday morning I woke up early, inspired to do some writing. I got up at 5:00 and used my cellphone as a dictation device and did some writing. Then I built a fire, had my breakfast, and an early morning nap.

It had kept snowing all night so the accumulation was about 10 inches or a foot. Since I planned to leave around noon, I began digging out the truck. First I had to get down there. I used the snowshoes to walk down the upper roadway and then down to the truck. That wasn't bad because it was downhill and the new snow was light and fluffy.

I dug the truck out and then used the snowshoes to pack down the driveway between the truck and the road. I made about four or five passes between the road and the truck. The county snowplow had thrown up a broad berm that was quite a bit heavier than the fluff. In addition to packing that down more with my snowshoes, I shoveled some of it away where it was extra high.

Then I decided to see if I could make it. I got in the truck, which was still in 4wd, and headed out. I got out onto the road fine but then I had to back the truck back in because I wasn't ready to leave. I misjudged backing in and got a little too far to one side and got stuck.

I did a lot of digging and made a lot of progress after a lot of hard work. I think I almost had it when the county snowplow guy came by and asked if he could help. I gladly accepted his offer and let him pull me out onto the county road. I thanked him and he drove off.

Then I backed the truck back into the driveway, this time being careful to aim it right so as not to get stuck again. There was about 2 inches of new snow on the staircase and the trail when I went back to the cabin to have my lunch, load up my gear, and leave for home. I left at about 12:45.

When I got to Cole's Corner, I saw a bunch of 18-wheelers parked all over the place. I soon learned that Highway 2 was closed in both directions and was not going to be open for the rest of the day. There was no commitment to open it the next day either. I had no good option but to return to Camp Serendipity and spend at least another night, which I did not mind doing.

Before I got out of cellphone range, I called Ellen and told her I wouldn't be home that evening. She agreed to keep me posted about the road closure and let me know when it opened back up.

When I got back to Camp Serendipity, Josh was just driving his tractor out of my driveway having finished scooping it out. He stopped and we chatted. I told him about the scouts coming up the weekend after next and that I would need the driveway scooped out again so that it could accommodate the troop bus. I also asked him to widen the lanes. He agreed.

It was still snowing so there was a considerable accumulation on the concrete staircase. I shoveled that off, again starting at the bottom. Then I moved my gear back in, built a fire, and settled in for the night. The temperature was about 25 and the new snow accumulation was about 2 feet. I was worn out.

On Friday morning, Ellen called and told me that the road was still closed with no projected time or promise of opening. I decided that the most urgent thing I needed to do was to shovel the snow off the privy roof again. There was about 2 or 3 feet of snow on it again and it was raining. That would make that snow super heavy and if it froze before I shoveled it off, it would be that much harder to dig through.

This time I didn't need to use a ladder. After snowshoeing my way to the privy, I snowshoed right up onto the top of the big pile of snow behind the privy that I had made the last time I had cleared the roof. Then, by standing on top of that pile, I could reach the roof with my scoop shovel and shovel more snow down onto the pile I was standing on.

As I cleared more and more snow off this way, the pile kept getting higher so that by the time I had offloaded at least my weight in snow from the roof, I was able to step right onto the roof from where I was standing. Then I simply shoveled more snow onto the pile from up on the roof.

Inside an hour, I had the roof cleared again and with a little help from gravity, I made my way back down from the snowpile to my snowshoes. I put them back on and returned to the cabin happy to have the job done. I looked over at the woodshed and decided not to clear its roof. It has a hip roof which is strong enough to support a big snow load, and even if the building collapsed, it wouldn't be a big loss. The main reason, though, is that it is a hard job to clear that roof and I didn't feel like doing it.

Instead I returned to the cabin, shoveled some snow off the back porch and steps, and then went to work on the front stair rail.

I finished forming the notch in the scab log, drilled the holes, and installed the lag screw to securely fasten the rail to the scab log. I took some pictures at various points as I went along.

Ellen had called me a couple times during the morning reporting no change in the road status. Then she called again while I was having lunch and told me that the road was open. I finished my lunch, packed my gear, closed up the place and left for home at 1:40. This time there was no closure and I drove over the pass without a problem. It looked like another storm was moving in, though, but I was ahead of it and made it home safely. It was a great week.

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