Construction Journal Entry Week of 1/14/24

1/15-19/24 I went up to Camp Serendipity for five days: Monday through Friday.

I left late. The weather was cold but clear and sunny, and the road was nicely plowed. It was a beautiful drive enhanced by the brilliant colors of the sky as the sunset progressed as I drove west the entire 10 miles along the lake. I arrived at 5:00, just at dusk.

Fortunately, the driveway was plowed and there was about four inches of new snow over the top of last week's trails and stairs. I didn't have much gear, so I carried it all up in one trip using a headlamp to see better. The temperature outside was 2 degrees and inside the cabin it was 45 degrees. My four electric heaters obviously couldn't keep up with the cold even though all the heaters were running.

I brought a bunch of firewood up to the front porch and stacked it on the stoop. Then I built a fire in the stove and brought the temperature in the cabin up to 63 degrees. I ate my dinner on a TV tray in front of the stove which made it comfortable.

On Tuesday the temperature went down to -3 degrees overnight. In the middle of the night, I was cold, so I went up into the loft and got a second sleeping bag. I spread it over the top of the one that was already on the bed. That made it cozy warm, and I slept well. I was up at 5:00 and the temperature inside the cabin was 45 degrees. I lit a fire in the stove and sat and listened to the radio for a while while the cabin warmed up. I played the piano until daylight arrived. Then I went outside, hoisted the flag, and split a bunch of firewood. The temperature was 0 degrees outside but 60 degrees inside.

It occurred to me that when I vacuum, the vacuum cleaner heats up the cabin usually making it too warm. So, I decided to vacuum, starting with the bedroom, and sure enough the cabin warmed up to 72 degrees. That was so warm that I decided to take a shower earlier than usual. As I showered, I realized that the water was not draining. So, by the time I finished there was two or three inches of water in the tub. That presented a new problem for me.

I went down into the crawl space and inspected the plumbing. I could see that the problem was that the drainpipe for the tub was not insulated. It added one more criticism I have of the plumbing job done on the wastewater system. Fortunately, there was no burst pipe or leakage. The next challenge was to warm up the pipe and drain it. Next, I found some leftover insulation that I could use to insulate the pipe.

As it happens, the pipe is over a jagged rock outcrop that doesn't provide much footing, and no comfortable footing. I knew it would be cold and difficult to insulate the pipe, so I decided to set up an electric heater under the pipe to help thaw it and more importantly maybe was to keep me warm while I worked on the insulation job. I went up to the loft and brought down an electric radiant heater and set it up below the pipe. After lunch and a nap, the cabin warmed up nicely in large part because of the solar gain. The air was clear, and the sun was bright. It was beautiful outside. The temperature inside the cabin was 76 degrees and outside it had warmed up to 10 degrees.

The tub began draining and I went to the crawl space and checked the plumbing again. There was no leakage and it appeared that the problem was solved except for the insulation. Since it was so nice outside, I went for a walk to the grave and back.

On Wednesday morning the temperature outside was 5 degrees and inside the cabin it was 60 degrees. I built another fire and split some more wood, and then spent some time listening to music. Then I practiced the piano while outside it was snowing heavily accumulating 5 new inches.

Then I went down to the crawl space and did the hard job of insulating the drain pipe all the while it kept snowing outside, eventually accumulating another foot or more.

I had my lunch and took a short nap and then went outside and dug out the staircase and the truck. I decided to move the truck closer to the road to make it easier to drive it out in the morning. The temperature was 6 degrees and I split a bunch of wood. I ended up very tired. I felt crummy.

On Thursday morning it was 15 degrees outside. I felt a lot better, built a fire in the stove, and practiced the piano. Dave called and we had a great conversation about his new avocation: He has joined a band. When we hung up, I decided to take on the hard job of shoveling the snow off the privy. All the snow that has fallen on the privy so far this winter was still there, and it was a heavy load. The snow had been extremely dense in the early snowfalls and now this latest snowfall had increased the depth to about four feet. I dreaded imagining how much more it would take to collapse the structure. And I wanted to avoid that.

The first part of the job was to stamp out a trail from the cabin to the privy. That took about an hour of strenuous work. But the weather was clear and pleasant. The next part of the job was to drag the 20-foot extension ladder from the crawl space up to the privy and set it up against the building. I was happy to have gotten that done when I went in for lunch and a nap.

When I came out, I shoveled off the roof of the privy. The temperature was 12 degrees. I used the aluminum scoop shovel to dig out a niche in the top 2 feet by standing on the ladder and using my right hand to drag scoopfuls of snow over the edge while hanging on to the ladder with my left hand. Once the niche was big enough to hold me, I gingerly stepped off the ladder into the niche on the snow and then began enlarging the niche and pushing the snow over the edge.

It was easy to scoop away the top 2 feet of snow but there was a big difference in the bottom 2 feet. It was closer to ice than snow. And my aluminum scoop shovel was not up to the task. I made a trip down to the crawl space and brought back a heavy steel square-nosed shovel which was the perfect tool to chip away the frozen snow and scoop it over the edge. It was actually a fun job scooping away all that snow all the while feeling good about offloading the snow load on the building. I went in for the night feeling very good about getting that job done. I left the ladder standing against the building so that it would be ready to go during the rest of the winter.

On Friday morning the temperature outside was 15 degrees. I built a fire in the stove, practiced the piano, and then vacuumed and mopped the dining room floor after having moved the big dining room table out of the way. Then since the weather was clear, I made two trips down to the truck with water jugs and dug out the truck in between the trips. There had been about 8 inches of new snow since I had moved the truck.

Then I had my lunch, packed up my gear, and carried it down to the truck in two trips. I left for home later than I wanted but I was on the road at 1:20. The traffic was slow because of the snow conditions on the road but it was a better trip over the pass than last week's. I finally got home at 5:00 glad to have arrived safely and glad I got done what I did this week.

Go to Next Journal Entry
Previous Journal Entry

Index to all Journal Entries
Go To Home Page

©2024 Paul R. Martin, All rights reserved.