Construction Journal Entry Week of 9/27/20

9/28-10/2/20 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 5 days: Monday through Friday.

I arrived at noon on a very pleasant fall day. It had evidently rained very hard recently and the ground was still wet. I brought my gear up to the cabin in two trips, hoisted the flag to half-staff for Justice Ginsberg, and built a small fire in the stove. The temperature in the cabin was 60 degrees but it soon warmed up nicely.

After lunch and a nap, I spotted another small lizard on the floor by the loft staircase. This one had a bobbed tail. I caught him in the usual way and took him outside to the front porch where I let him go. I took a picture of him.

Before I quit for the day, I vacuumed the first floor, and installed new NIOSH cannisters on my respirator.

On Tuesday I worked in the crawl space to get it ready for laying the plastic on the floor. I used a rake to flatten and smooth the floor and to scoop up rocks and boards which I took outside. The hard work was removing the various platforms and ramps I had constructed near the door and in front of the workbench. These were built to allow walking over a very irregular group of bedrock outcrops and the steep drop down from the doorway threshold. I dragged all those structures outside not sure whether I would reuse them or build new and better ones. The main thing was to get them out of the way.

I didn't attempt to move the workbench or the stoop right in front of the door. I figured I could get the plastic under them somehow without moving them but I didn't know exactly how.

After lunch and a nap, I went into the woods to check on the trees. The ground was very wet so I didn't bother to irrigate Andrew. The trees all looked fine.

I also went up to the springbox to see if the rain had resulted in any overflow. I was a little disappointed that it hadn't, but I think the water level will rise eventually as winter comes on. At least I hope so. I ended the day early so that I could listen to the Trump/Biden debate.

On Wednesday I did the final raking and rock removal to prepare for the plastic. I also covered most of the drainage channel by placing big flat rocks on top of the gravel.

After lunch and a nap, I called Earl and left a message that I had called. I spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing. I noticed some new smoke in the air and wondered where it had come from.

On Thursday, the Gale installer showed up with a big roll of 6-mil plastic. It was 12 feet wide and 100 feet long. We spent a lot of time talking about the strategy for laying the plastic. We made some measurements and together decided on the best way to unroll the plastic and then open it up to cover the ground. We agreed that I would do the work of opening up, cutting, and fitting the pieces after he left. He only needed to unroll the plastic down the middle of the areas it was to cover. I would help him with that and then he could leave.

I asked him about gluing the plastic to itself at the seams and gluing the plastic to concrete or rock. He said they didn't glue it at all, they just overlapped the seams, and he didn't have any ideas about what kind of glue might work. That told me that I didn't have to worry about gluing either, which was a relief.

After we laid out three long strips of plastic, he left the remainder of the roll with me and he left. I had my lunch and a nap and then tackled what I thought would be the hardest part of the job. That was to get the plastic down at the Grid A3 corner. The surface of the bedrock is very irregular there and there is a big drop from the door threshold down to the ground. The workbench is also right there and is so loaded down with stuff that I don't even want to think about moving it. Of the ad hoc platforms and ramps I had built in that area only the stoop remained.

I pulled the stoop up and set it aside and then I removed some of the concrete blocks it had been resting on. Then I spread the corner of the plastic over and covered that area. When I thought it was positioned and oriented right, I replaced the concrete blocks and then the stoop. It took some adjustment and wiggling to get it back to being stable, but I was able to do it. I was very happy with the result.

With that success, I tackled the workbench. I used a long 4x4 as a lever with a fulcrum on top of a concrete block right near a structural horizontal 2x4 on the workbench to lift the center of the workbench up about an inch. Then I placed another concrete block with a wooden shim under the horizontal 2x4 and then relaxed the 4x4 lever. That left the weight of the workbench on the shim. The concrete block supporting the leftmost leg of the bench was offloaded.

That allowed me to remove the concrete supporting block and shove the plastic under the workbench leg. When the plastic was smoothed out, I replaced the supporting concrete block, levered the workbench back up, removed the temporary block and shim, and finally lowered the workbench back down onto the supporting concrete block under the left leg.

I used the same technique to get the plastic under the center leg of the workbench so that the plastic reached all the way to the rightmost leg. I'll do the same thing for that leg later, but for the time being, I was extremely happy that I had gotten what I consider to be the hardest part of the plastic installation done. Everything should be much easier and routine from here on.

To keep the job as simple as possible, I decided to re-use all the platforms and ramps the way they were rather than build nice new ones and dispose of the old ones. I can always do that later if I think it will be worth it. I took a picture of what I had done so far, and then later, I replaced the ramp that runs from the stoop down to the ground. Then I quit for the day very happy with the day's progress. It had been a great day.

On Friday morning I just didn't feel like doing any hard or dirty work, so I just relaxed. I left for home at 1:00, again pleased with the week's progress.

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