Construction Journal Entry Week of 1/2/22

1/3-5/22 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Monday through Wednesday.

There was snow on the ground all the way from home to Camp Serendipity and I had to use 4wd all the way from Goldbar. The going was slow, so I stopped at Marilyn's on the way to use her bathroom. I finally arrived at 12:30 after a fairly early start. When I arrived, the temperature was 13 degrees, there was about 18 inches of new snow on the ground, and the driveway had not been plowed. I tried barging in anyway and got high-centered and stuck right at the driveway entrance. I had gotten far enough in that I was well off the road, so I decided to just park where I was.

I dug the snow out from under the truck so that it wouldn't freeze solid and get me really stuck, and then I stomped out a trail with my boots to the foot of the concrete staircase. I used the scoop shovel to pack the snow in front of me and since the snow was light, it worked pretty well. Then I used the scoop shovel to clear the staircase, and finally I stomped out the trail from there to the cabin. I finally got inside at 2:30 ready for another bathroom break and something to eat.

I had left three portable electric space heaters running so the temperature inside the cabin was 50 degrees. That was cold, but better than the 40 degrees of last week. I built a fire in the stove and was having some lunch when Dave called. We had a nice conversation and when we hung up, I went down to the truck and brought my gear up in two trips. After that, I split and stacked a bunch of firewood. The cabin was a nice cozy 70 degrees when I went inside for the night.

On Tuesday it was snowing when I got up and the temperature in the cabin was 60 degrees. I had left two portable heaters running all night but the big radiant heater that doesn't have a fan was acting funny. The element would glow, but it would intermittently dim and then brighten. Something was wrong with it.

After practicing the piano, I went out and split and stacked more firewood. Then I stomped a trail to the mixer and used the scoop shovel to clear off 47 inches of snow from the top of it. Then I stomped a trail from the mixer to the privy and went back to the cabin and got the extension ladder. I set the ladder up against the privy, climbed up, and scooped the snow off the privy roof. I shoveled most of the snow off on the West side and by the time I finished, the pile of snow on that side was higher than the privy roof.

I kept looking at the huge load of snow on the woodshed and debated on whether to clear it or not. I decided that it would be too dangerous to be under it, or even near it, in case it collapsed. I had made the same decision in previous years and the roof always held up so I trusted that it would again. We'll see. After returning the ladder, I had a late lunch and a nap.

When I got up, I decided to do something with the radiant heater. Since the element was working, I decided to hot-wire it so that it would stay on. I opened it up and drew a diagram of the wiring so I could decide what to do. I ended up bypassing the internal thermostat by connecting its leads directly together. That left the indicator lights and the switch and wattage selector still intact and functional. It gave me a choice to set it at 800 or 1500 watts.

Robert called and we chatted about our respective experiences with the snow and cold temperatures. Meanwhile, the temperature in the cabin went up to 75 degrees which surprised me at how effective the wood stove was. When I went to bed, I let the fire in the stove burn out, but I set up the radiant heater at 1500 watts to test it overnight. I had doctor's appointments on Thursday and Friday this week, so I was going to be gone from the cabin for at least four days. I planned to leave that heater running the whole time.

I woke up at 3:30 in the morning and was surprised that the temperature in the cabin was still above 70 degrees. I turned the heater down to 800 watts, shut off the two other heaters, and went back to bed.

On Wednesday when I got up, the temperature in the cabin was still 70 degrees which really surprised me. The only explanation I had was that the logs had soaked up enough heat to keep the temperature up all night with the help of 800 watts. Most of all though, I was happy that the modified heater worked just fine.

After practicing the piano, I began preparing to go home for the long weekend. At one point in the process, I happened to be looking out the living room window and I could feel a rush of warm air enveloping me. To my utter surprise, the big Convectair heater, that I thought was broken, was pumping out heat. That explained why it had stayed so warm overnight, but it added the mystery of why that heater started working again.

The only explanation I could come up with was that at one point I had pressed a reset button on the heater, but since there was no click, I didn't think it did anything. Another thing I had done at some point, was to push the button that increments the thermostat setting a few times. The display was blank so I couldn't see the setting nor the effect of my button pushing but I thought that if I set it to a high temperature, it might start the heater if it still worked. At that time, it didn't seem to work, and I had given it up for dead.

Now this morning, it was blasting out heat and the display was working. It showed a temperature setting of 111, evidently as a result of my button pushing. I set it back down to 64.5 which is where I normally have it set. I decided not to use the space heaters at all over the long weekend and hope the Convectair has healed itself. We'll see next week.

I left for home at 12:30 and, as it turns out, it was more serendipity that I had those appointments; I made it over the pass and home without much problem, but later in the day, the weather got worse, and all four Cascade passes were closed for four days. If I hadn't left, I would have been stuck in the cabin over the weekend. I like serendipity.

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