Construction Journal Entry Week of 5/19/19

5/21-23/19 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

On the way, I stopped and visited with Earl. He was working in his garage and seemed to be in good shape. He told me that Dana was napping. We went outside and were chatting when he asked me whether the porcupine he saw at the base of a tree was real or a hallucination. I told him it was a hallucination. I asked him whether the two guys he sees were in my truck. He looked in and said "yes, but they faded away when they saw me looking".

After leaving Earl's, I proceeded on to Camp Serendipity. I arrived at 12:30. The weather was overcast and 50. I brought my gear up to the cabin, hoisted the flag, started a fire in the stove, had my lunch and then my usual nap.

When I got up, I took the wheelbarrow down to the truck and loaded a 50-lb block of salt for the deer. Then I wheeled the salt up to the bluff and set it down with the remnant of the last block.

While I was up there, I checked on all the trees and they are all doing OK. I was happy to see that Andrew was getting two drops per second out of the irrigation hose. That was about a hundred times more than when I left last week so I was very pleased. The ram pump was obviously working.

Since I had the wheelbarrow up there, I loaded it with a load of firewood from the woods and brought it down to the cabin and stacked it. Then I got a shovel and dug up a few thistles that I had noticed.

On Wednesday, I went back up to the sequoia trees with a small bag of fertilizer that I had. I figured that Paul, Brian, and Andrew could use some. When I got to Andrew, I was disappointed to see that there was no water coming out of the irrigation hose at all. Something was wrong.

I went right over to the spring and the ram pump to check it out. The pump was busily pumping, and the hose was convulsing with every stroke, so I followed the hose up to the ridge to see what was going on. I opened a joint below the ridge and water spurted out with each pump stroke. So, I closed that joint again and went up to the ridge where I opened another joint. That one was dry. That meant that even though the pump was pumping, it was not developing enough pressure to make the ridge. The only reasonable conclusion I could make was that the small air chamber I had built into the pump was full of water and that a bigger air chamber might make it work. I went back to the cabin with the intention of making a bigger air chamber over the weekend.

Next, I turned my attention to the back-staircase rail project. I needed one more rail for the bottom so I dragged a log down from up by Paul that I thought would work. It was a pretty big log with a lot of taper. When I got it down to the cabin, I used the porch crane to lift it up onto the sawhorses on the porch deck.

Once it was up there, I decided that I didn't like the look of it. It was just too big. It looked like harvesting the next 11 feet from the trunk that Robert had cut down for me would be better. So, I took a rope, a roll of sheet-metal flashing, a sharpie, a measuring tape, and a sawzall down to the log.

While I was down there, I decided to take Ellen's advice and spend some time shoveling dirt from the piles where the snow had been piled up and into the big gouges in the roadway where the snowplow had dug the dirt out during the winter while snowplowing. It had irritated me that Josh dug up so much dirt when he plowed the snow, so I included a letter to that effect when I paid my snowplowing bill. I hope that in the coming years I won't have that problem again.

When I had had enough shoveling, I bucked the next 11 feet from the log. I used the flashing to wrap around the log where I wanted to cut it. When it was snugged up and lined up, I drew a line around the log with the sharpie. I cannot judge a square cut on a log with my unaided eye, so the line gave me a way to make a nice square cut. The sawzall wasn't as fast as a chainsaw, but it was a lot less of a fuss than getting the chainsaw out, so I am sure I saved time overall.

With the new rail cut, I tied a stout rope to the end of it and dragged it up the roadway, and positioned it below the crane. Then I used the crane to lower the big, ugly log I had rejected back down to the roadway where I will buck it up for firewood. Finally I used the crane to lift the new rail log up and set it on the sawhorses.

Then I finished drawknifing the last foot or so of the first lower rail before I went in for lunch and a nap. When I got up, I drawknifed the bark off the second lower rail which was the one I had just harvested. The bark came off easily because the tree had been cut in the springtime.

When the rail was peeled, I went out and measured for the bottom newel post on the back-staircase. I found that the post that was in there was too short. So, I started looking around for a log I could use for a newel post. After considering a few alternatives, I decided to use the butt of the same tree that had supplied me with the two 11-foot rails.

Before I went in for the night, I split the firewood rounds that I had wheelbarrowed down earlier, and I used some of it to start another fire in the stove.

On Thursday morning, I took my rope, flashing, pen, and sawzall back down to the same log and harvested a 5-foot newel post from the butt end. Then I dragged it up the hill, used the porch crane to get it up onto the sawhorses, and then drawknifed the bark off of it.

I left for home at 12:40 happy with the progress and thinking about how I was going to build an air chamber for the ram pump.

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