Construction Journal Entry Week of 5/15/11

5/17-19/11 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

This was a memorable week. When I passed Tutino's, Bert and Ernie ran out in the road and started following me but they must have lost interest along the way. I arrived at 12:55. When I parked at the gate and got out to open it, I saw Ron Sideritz picking mushrooms on the other side of the road. We got to talking and he told me that he had just seen two coyotes run across the road up onto my property. He said he had then heard quite a commotion coming from my woods. I invited Ron up to see the place and he followed my truck up to the hairpin turn where I parked it.

After I parked, Ron started asking me about the trailer. As it turned out, he was looking for a trailer like that, and I am looking for someone to buy it. I showed him the inside and outside of the trailer and explained its idiosyncrasies. He ended up offering me $50 for it which I accepted. He wants to haul it out around the middle of June which fits perfectly with my schedule. I can get it cleaned out and ready to move by then, and that may even allow me to get the road graded into its designed arc so that the hairpin turn won't be so sharp before the drywall is delivered. That will make it a lot easier to get the drywall material up to the cabin.

Ron then helped me carry my gear up to the cabin and we went in for a visit. He had a look at the first floor and told me that I had made a good choice in getting Ron Scollard to do the drywall.

Next we went up to the loft where I unfolded and showed him my bronze model of Mt. Rainier National Park. We had quite a long discussion over the model talking about patinas and our various experiences in the park, among other topics. He told me about his climb to the summit and we traced out his route on the model. I told him about Ellen's and my hike around the Wonderland Trail, including encounters with wildlife, the theft of some of our gear, and our experience in the rain with Dave and Charis. Then I told him about how Dave and Charis had told us all about the murder of Larry Sturholm and how Ann Rule had contacted us as a result of the story on our website. He said he was a fan of Ann Rule's books.

From there we went outside to see the sequoia grove. About 40 feet before we reached Dan, we came across a dead doe lying on the trail. The only visible injury was a big chunk of flesh that had been torn out of her hindquarters. Ron checked the neck to see if it had been injured and it was not. From this he concluded that the deer had been taken by coyotes and not a cougar or a bear. He said that the body was still soft and warm and that the kill had been made just 5 minutes before I had arrived at the gate. He was sure that the two coyotes he saw and the commotion he heard were linked to the kill. He told me that the coyotes were in all probability watching us as we were inspecting their prize. He said that I should crack my window before I went to bed and that I would probably hear a lot of howling and yipping as the coyotes came back to eat up their kill.

We moved on to the sequoia grove where Ron had a look at some of the trees. He told me he regretted not planting a bunch of tree seedlings that he had some years ago. That made me glad that I have put the effort into trying to get these sequoias established.

From there I walked with Ron down the concrete staircase while I told him the story of the electric service installation and the resulting staircase. As we reached the road, Ron resumed his picking of fiddleheads while I ran back to the cabin and got my camera. I took a few pictures of Ron picking mushrooms and standing in front of the rock outcropping. I explained the unique geology of the outcropping to Ron and he seemed to be very interested.

Ron and I said our goodbyes at 3:00. Since I had the camera, I decided to go back up and take a picture of the deer carcass. I took a couple pictures of the deer at 3:10 and then went into the cabin for lunch and to unload my gear.

After lunch I got three buckets and the bottle of Superthrive and went back to the sequoia trees to water them. I was a little apprehensive about going into the woods alone with a coyote pack out there, so I armed myself with a hunting knife, a hatchet, and my telephone. I didn't want to think about the possibility of a bear coming across the deer carcass and claiming it.

To my great surprise, when I arrived at the site, the deer carcass was gone almost without a trace. The time was 3:56, so in less than an hour, while I was having my lunch, the coyotes had evidently taken their booty to somewhere away from my interference.

There were traces of blood on the ground among the dead leaves, and there were a couple traces of blood on the trail toward Dan, but otherwise nothing. If I hadn't known it was there, I would have completely missed those traces. It was a good lesson in how the drama among the wildlife in the woods goes almost completely unnoticed at least by me.

I gave each of the sequoia trees a couple gallons of water and I gave Bill and Andrew each a dose of Superthrive. All the trees seem to be thriving so far. When I finished, there wasn't enough time left in the day to start on any meaningful work on the cabin. At night I didn't hear any howling or yipping in the woods.

On Wednesday I started by measuring the remaining narrow gap between the ceiling boards that I had installed. The gap was not uniform but it tapered down from about 2 inches near the gable end to about an inch at the other end. It was tapered so that the width diminished all the way along.

I measured for it by cutting a 1-inch strip of paper from the edge of a roll of butcher paper. I made a measurement of the gap at each rafter by laying the paper crosswise to the gap and creasing it at the right width. Then I moved to the next rafter and measured from the previous crease and made a new crease marking the correct width. When I finished, the strip had a dozen or so creases in it. Then I marked one of the 16-foot 1x8s with a mark every sixteen inches. That's easy because the tape has special marks at those intervals. Next I used my creased strip of paper to mark the board for width at each of the 16-inch marks. Finally I used a yardstick to draw the line joining all the marks.

Then using a Skilsaw, I ripped the strip from the board, and finally, using the power planer, I chamfered the edge to match the tongue and groove boards.

I knew that I would not be able to install the strip without cutting it because I needed to slide the strip toward the narrow end engaging the tongue and groove as I went, but the fascia would keep the strip away from the rafters and keep it from engaging the tongue. So I cut 16 inches off the wide end.

This allowed me to slide the long part into the gap all the way. The 16-inch piece then went in after I chamfered the top side also by engaging the groove in the tongue first and then rotating the piece into position. It worked pretty slick if I say so myself.

The ripped edge of the strip mated with the groove edge of the existing board, so there was an unacceptable small gap between them in several places. I used steel wool to plug this gap to keep insects out. I used a hammer and a slotted screwdriver to tamp the steel wool in the same way I had seen a "corker" caulk the seams of a wood boat with oakum in my younger days.

When I finished with that, I stained the chamfered edge of the strip which finished up the ceiling below the Grid G purlin above the stairs and the Grid G3 corner where I needed scaffolding to reach it. A chipmunk visited me on the porch a few times to take peanuts from my hand.

At 11:00 I got a telephone call which turned out to be a political teleconference I had subscribed to and which I eagerly listened to until noon. After lunch and a nap I began installing ceiling boards above the Grid G purlin. I decided to quit trying to install complete 16 foot boards. It might have worked if I had someone else helping me, but by myself I had to spend just too much time rigging slings and clamps and fiddling around trying to get the entire board seated on the exposed tongue. What I found out is that I could easily install 8-footers with no slings or clamps. They didn't droop on the ends so I could engage the entire board at once using just one hand and, with a hammer in the other hand, I could tap the board home and then just nail it to the rafters.

I spent the rest of the afternoon installing boards above the scaffolding and stairs. My objective was to be able to dismantle the scaffolding this week so that I could begin to get ready for drywall delivery. I figured out how to undo the rope railing at the Grid E3 corner without cutting it so that I can get it out of the way to make getting the drywall material up on the porch easy.

The chipmunk was back during the afternoon's work and I took several breaks to feed him peanuts.

On Thursday morning I completed the fourth course of ceiling boards over the scaffolding and stairs. The chipmunk showed up again and so did Bert and Ernie. I gave them their usual hugs and biscuits and I also had a tub of left-over gravy which I split between them.

Next I cleaned the sawdust mess off the porch and dismantled the scaffolding. I put away the planks and frames so I am ready for a truck to be able to drive up to the porch. Then I took a picture of the ceiling boards from the upper roadway.

I feel good about the plan for the next month or so. With this phase of the ceiling board project at an end, I can now get the trailer ready to move and get the soffit frame built and the other things done to be ready for drywall sometime in June. I also need to get the flooring material for the bathroom so that I can install it before I re-install the toilet after the drywall is done in there. Then, after that, I will be ready to install interior doors and cabinets. I expect a very noticeable amount of progress to be done this summer for a change.

Just as I was closing the place up getting ready to leave, I found a dead grouse on the ground up against the end of the back porch deck. The head of the poor bird was completely missing and the body was still limp. I couldn't imagine how it happened, unless a bobcat had grabbed it by the head and the body somehow got flung, or flew, down to the back porch and the bobcat was scared off by my presence. It's just one more mysterious example of the wildlife drama that plays out near the cabin. I left for home at 1:20 feeling good.

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