Construction Journal Entry Week of 7/10/11

7/13/11 (Wednesday) Ron Scollard called me and told me that he was still bedridden with a bad back. He wanted to know whether I was willing to wait until he healed or whether I wanted to get someone else to finish the job. I told him that I would wait until he was well enough to finish the job.

7/14-16/11 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Thursday through Saturday.

I arrived at 12:20 and drove directly up to the cabin. I unloaded a carpet we bought at a garage sale and a 50 lb sack of bentonite. I also unloaded my gear while I was up there. Then I backed the truck back down and unloaded a bunch of yard waste and stacked it on the compost pile.

As I walked back up to the cabin, I whacked weeds and bushes in the parking area and on the roadway. Next, I opened up the septic pump control box and read the event counter. It had advanced one count since it had been installed. That proves that the pump, as well as the event counter, are working correctly. I recorded the counter reading on the AFCI and GFCI breaker test log, as I plan to do every month.

After lunch and a nap, I went into the woods and gave each of the sequoia trees two gallons of water. As I feared, Bill looked completely dead. I emptied the remainder of the bottle of Superthrive on it and gave it two gallons of water, but I'm afraid it is a goner. It made me feel bad.

I whacked some more brush and then turned to more serious work. I started digging out one of the two deadmen I had buried to anchor tie-downs for the snowshed. The deadmen were made by attaching a cable to a cross of rebar, laying the cross in the bottom of a hole, and filling the hole with rocks and dirt. I remembered that I had used some really nice flat rocks that I could use on the cabin stairs so I decided to dig them up. It was hot, hard digging and the mosquitoes were thick. I figured that once I started pulling the rocks out, that would expose the ones underneath and it wouldn't be too hard to get them out. What I hadn't counted on was that in the 19 years the deadmen had been in place, tree roots had grown in amongst the rocks. I first hit one about 3 inches in diameter and didn't realize it was a root at first. Then I hit a second one that was about 4 inches in diameter and it was right on top of a big flat rock pinning it in super tight.

Bert and Ernie came by and gave me an excuse to take a break and give them some dog biscuits. After the break, I switched from digging to cutting branches off the trees that line the part of the driveway where the trailer had been. My objective was to get the originally planned roadway driveable. I thought I would have to get Mike to come in and do some grading, but as I had been digging out the first deadman, I threw the dirt in a depression in the roadway. From the amount of work I had already done, it looked to me like I could fix the grade just by shoveling so that I could drive up without having Mike do any grading. So getting the branches cut out of the way was something that needed to be done.

Towards evening, the mosquitoes were so thick that I could swat 6 or 8 mosquitoes at one time on my left arm. I went in for the night hot, sweaty, tired, and glad to be away from the mosquitoes. Unfortunately I couldn't keep them all out of the cabin, but fortunately I had a mosquito net tent set up over my bunk so I could at least sleep without them bothering me.

On Friday morning, I went back to work on the first deadman but very soon I thought better of it and gave up. I had already recovered a lot of good rocks, particularly the ones I had used to make the stoop for the trailer, and the work to retrieve any more would not be worth the effort. Instead, I decided to concentrate on getting the original roadway drivable.

First I moved all the log parts of the snowshed out of the way. Some of them were still fastened together making triangles, which I moved into the woods out of the way. Others were the 10-foot log legs which I stacked on the high side of the road.

Then I took up the visqueen that had been under the trailer and slid it to the parking area to dry out. I picked up a few more odds and ends and filled a few holes and figured it was drivable. I tried it and discovered that I could do it in 4WD. So I loaded the 10-foot logs into the truck and drove them up to the upper roadway. I unloaded them up near the crawlspace door where I split firewood.

I was a little disappointed that it required 4WD, although once it is graded a little I'm sure I won't need it. And it took 3 maneuvers to make the turn. I had designed the curve of the road to accommodate my old GMC truck, but the Ford has such a bigger turning radius that I don't think I can make it in one maneuver. But at least it will be better than the 8 or 10 maneuvers it took me using the temporary roadway. It will be a much welcome improvement.

Next, I loaded up a bunch of rocks that I had dug up and hauled them up to the cabin. I stored them to the right of the front staircase where I will eventually use many of them to build the stone portion of the staircase.

After lunch and a nap, I bucked, split, and stacked firewood from the snowshed leg logs I had brought up. A lot of the wood was infested with insects, so I stacked it on the rock wall across the roadway from the cabin. I don't want those critters infesting the logs and firewood that are stacked next to the cabin.

When that was done, I went in and tried to clean up the cabin floor. Gypsum from the drywall had been ground into the plywood subfloor and I wanted to clean it up if I could. The vacuum cleaner didn't work so I tried scrubbing it with a mason's brush. That didn't work very well either. Then I tried a floor scraper and that did work although it was a lot of work. I decided to do only the bathroom because I want to put a bathmat on the floor and not have it get dirty from the gypsum dust. I scraped, swept, and vacuumed the bathroom floor and decided that it was too much work to do all the floors that way. I'm not sure how clean they need to be before I install the flooring but I'll figure that out later. For now, I have a clean bathroom floor.

On Saturday morning, I started on the project of drying out the crawlspace. The plan is to clean the space between the cliff and the foundation on the back of the cabin, sprinkle a layer of bentonite at the bottom of this space, build up the space with rammed earth, and then pour concrete over the top to form a channel that will connect the drain pipes that I had embedded in the concrete column pads back there so that the water will be routed through the channel and around the building.

Using a shovel and a bucket, I removed a bunch of debris from the space and threw it on top of the route of the sewer pipe. My objective was to uncover the embedded drain pipes so I could measure their elevations pretty accurately. Once the pipes were exposed, I measured the depths of the pipes and also the depth of the bedrock on both ends of the building. The bedrock on the East corner is the highest so the water will have to be routed around the North corner. I think the bedrock at the North corner is lower than the drain pipes, but if not, I will chisel a deeper channel there. These measurements will tell me what I need to do.

In a way I'm glad that the drywall job is delaying the flooring and cabinet projects. That will give me time to work on the crawlspace drainage problem which I really want to solve this summer. I'd like that crawlspace to be dry next winter.

I left for home at about 1:00, taking a dozen or so mosquitoes with me in the cab.

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