Construction Journal Entry Week of 12/29/02

12/31/02-1/2/03 I went up to the property for 3 days with Chuck and Andrew: Tuesday through Thursday.

Just before we left, I received the bad news that Gus had had a stroke and was being taken to the hospital. We swung by the hospital on the way to the property to visit Gus. The weather was fairly clear on the drive over, but there was a lot of compact snow and ice over the pass and beyond. We arrived at 2:30 and there was about two feet of snow on the ground. Chuck and Andrew shoveled out a parking place while I made trails up to the trailer and the building with snowshoes. Then I brought a steel scaffold frame, a chain, and a come-along down to remove the gate. After using the come-along attached to the scaffold frame to lift the gate log up off the rebar bearing, the three of us moved the log out of the way of the driveway and the road. I'll just leave it there until spring as I do every winter. Now that the snow is this deep, people can't drive up the driveway past the parking spot at the road. We finally got the pickup parked at 3:30 and started moving our gear into the trailer. We were all getting awfully hungry. We were all moved in and having lunch by 4:00.

We assigned Andrew the job of keeping the water jugs full and he did a good job of it. After lunch, Chuck carried the three rolls of copper pipe up to the building. Andrew was intent on having snowball fights so we all got into the act and the snow was flying. We all got a little soaked. It was soon dark so we went in for the night.

We dried our clothes in the trailer, had dinner, played cards, told jokes, did some reading, and argued a little with Andrew about whether or not to stay up until midnight to ring in the new year. Andrew lost. We turned the lights out and went to sleep at 10:00.

It snowed a foot or so overnight so in the morning while I took care of things in the trailer, Chuck put on the snowshoes and made trails to the compost pile, the pickup, the building, the privy, and then up to the spring. We intended to work on the first section of pipe at the spring. Our plan was to try to string a length of pipe in the creek under the ground where it leaves the spring. I brought an empty aspirin bottle and a length of parachute cord, along with some shovels and a long 1x2 up to the spring. I tied the parachute cord to the aspirin bottle, filled it with various amounts of water, and tried floating it down the creek hoping it would take the cord underground with it. The flow of the creek was so low that I couldn't get the bottle to move at all. I could easily see that this was not the time to try to do this job. Andrew was eager to have another snowball fight, so I decided to abandon this job until springtime when the creek flow will be stronger.

Since Andrew doesn't get many chances to come up to the property, I decided to abandon all work efforts this week and just have fun. We asked Andrew what he wanted to do and he said he wanted to build an igloo. So we did. With the three of us working, we built a nice igloo about 6 or 7 feet high. We used two plastic storage boxes as forms. Chuck filled the boxes with snow and packed them down. Then he dumped out the block and I fitted it into the building. Andrew and I both chinked the seams with snow as it went up. We took a lunch break halfway through the job and finished about 3:30.

Bert and Ernie came by and visited. Chuck and Andrew tried to get them to go inside the igloo but they wouldn't. Ernie poked his head in once, but that was all. They were having too much fun romping around in the snow.

Andrew really wanted to know if you could have a fire inside an igloo and what would happen if you did. I agreed to build a fire so we could find out. We had left a vent hole in the top so the smoke could get out. The wood was sort of wet, but with Chuck's lighter and a little patience, we got a small fire burning. The igloo filled up with smoke but if you got your head down near the floor, you could breathe with no problem. This was a good lesson in why you have to stay low if you are ever in a burning building.

Chuck wanted to buy a paper to see how his football teams had done, so I told him I would drive him to Parkside Grocery to get one. Since the snow was pretty light, I didn't think I needed to clear it off the windshield. I thought the wipers could clear it away. I was wrong. I left the wiper motor turned on and I went out and scooped the snow away. As soon as the wipers started going, we saw that the one on the driver's side had broken off. The spot weld holding the wiper blade to the arm had broken. I went up and got a pliers and some rebar tie wire and wired the blade to the arm. It worked pretty well.

It was snowing pretty heavily and there was about eight inches of snow on the road. There had been some traffic, though, so there were some ruts in the snow. It took a little maneuvering to get out of the parking place and onto the road, and it was a little hairy driving to the store. We made it okay, but the store was closed so we didn't get a paper. On the way back, we followed Mike's tow truck. We saw one car stuck in the ditch on the way so I suspect Mike had a little business that day. We got the pickup parked again just before it got dark.

Igloo building is hard work. We were all pretty sore when we went to bed.

On Thursday morning, there was another two feet of snow on the ground. After breakfast, Chuck used the snowshoes to make trails. He cleared the snow off the pickup and from in front of it so we could get out. I took care of things inside the trailer and Chuck hauled our gear to the pickup and loaded it up. I locked up the building and the trailer and fixed the wiper a little better by putting a shim between the blade and the arm. It wiped the windshield a lot better after that. We left for home at 11:00, had lunch at KFC in Monroe on the way, and stopped in to see Gus.

When we left the hospital, the pickup wouldn't start. Chuck and I looked under the hood, talked about what might be wrong, and I was starting to think about calling AAA. Then Andrew said, "Grandpa, I think you are out of gas." Sure enough. I switched to the other tank, which I knew was full, started the pickup and drove home. We didn't get much work done this week, but we sure did have fun, and that's what it's all about anyway.

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