Construction Journal Entry Week of 12/11/11

12/13-15/11 Dave and I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

I drove downtown to pick Dave up from work at his office so that we could have the maximum amount of time to visit. I left earlier than usual and we arrived at Camp Serendipity at about 10:30.

We had a delightful conversation all the way over. The temperature was in the 20s and there still hadn't been any new snow. We turned on the water pressure and parked the truck as I usually do, and carried our gear up the concrete staircase that Dave had helped build. I am so thankful for that staircase.

We built a fire in the stove and soon got the place cozy warm. When we went up for lunch in the loft I showed Dave the map I had hung on the wall showing a pin in the location for each person who has emailed me about the cabin project and for whom I knew where they lived. Quite a few of them don't reveal where they live so they aren't represented on the map. Dave also flipped through the book of those emails and read some of them.

While we were fixing and eating lunch, I demonstrated to Dave a sample of the Great Courses lectures I watch on DVD during each meal. I played a little of the course I am watching now, but since I don't consider it to be one of the best, I chose one that I think is excellent and let Dave pick the particular lecture he wanted to watch. I chose a course on the history of the Vikings by Prof. Kenneth Harl, who I consider to be one of the best, and Dave chose a lecture on Viking shipbuilding.

One of the topics Dave and I had been discussing was his wood boat-building project. Since he is such an avid sailor and boat-builder, he had in interest in this particular lecture. I learned, from Dave's reactions, some interesting aspects of boat-building and also that Professor Harl didn't quite know as much about sailing and shipbuilding as one might think from the impressions he gives in his lecture. But I guess that's what you would expect; he's an historian, not a sailor.

After lunch, Dave stockpiled a bunch of firewood on the porch. We toured the cabin so Dave could see the progress since he had been there last. While we were out on the porch we noticed that the thermometer said 27 degrees. I explained my exercise device for lifting buckets of rocks, and I took the opportunity to do my routine right then and there.

Dave and I have so many common interests and there is so much to talk about that our conversations were pretty much continuous the whole time. The subjects ranged from politics to religion to philosophy to math to psychology to carpentry and cabin building and boat building and virtually everything else.

We decided to get some work done so we started working on hanging the bathroom door. The first problem was that there was a gap between the sheetrock and the studs, mostly on one side of one stud, but partially on both sides of both studs. I thought that nailing on the casing might crack the sheetrock if I didn't fill those spaces. I had brought some Fixall with me which I thought might work to fill the gaps. Dave suggested sticking shims in the spaces, which I decided was an easier and better solution.

We started fitting shims into the cracks, but of course the inevitable conversation started and our attention drifted away from the shims and we concentrated on the much more interesting topics that we were discussing. We ended up sitting on chairs in front of the roaring fire, and the only work we did was to throw more firewood into the stove, and replenish our firewood supply. The conversation had a life of its own and kept going without effort. It was delightful.

Seemingly in no time, it was time for dinner. Dave got some water for dinner, I got the rest of the fixings from the refrigerator, and we went up to the loft for a nice dinner, hardly missing a beat in our conversation.

On Wednesday morning we fired up the stove, I did my normal routine of recording my blood pressure and doing my exercises, and we had our breakfast.

Afterward, Dave volunteered to hook up the old sink I had temporarily set on top of the bathroom cabinets. He didn't particularly like sitting on the edge of the tub to wash up or do dishes.

I had brought the two risers with me that were necessary for the hook-up, and I got a P-trap kit from the crawlspace that I had previously bought. Dave discovered that the P-trap couldn't reach high enough and we needed an extender, which I didn't have. Rather than take the time to drive the 20 mile round trip to the store, we settled on making an extension pipe from a used-up tube of Dap caulk. With enough Teflon tape and a pipe clamp, Dave connected the Dap tube to the P-trap and the drain pipe from the sink went down into the caulk tube without needing a fastener. He called it something like "our plumbing a-Dap-tation ". The drain had a little oozing leak when being used, so we just stuck a small bucket under it and called it good.

Our next project was going to be to harvest some firewood, so while Dave was working on the sink, I was gassing up the chainsaw and trying to get it started in the 20 degree temperature. It was so hard to turn the cold engine over, and I exerted myself as much as I wanted to trying, I gave up and brought the saw in and set it next to the stove to warm up.

About that time, Dave gave me the news that the sink worked fine, except that you couldn't shut the water off. The faucet was bad. Worse still, the trickle of water that you couldn't shut off was hot water. We decided that we would just turn the valves off under the cabinet when we were done using the sink, and turn them on when we wanted to use it.

After the saw had warmed up for a few minutes, I tried it again and it started right up. We went up to the drainfield area and harvested a good size log that had been part of the tree that the loft stair stringer had come from. Dave split about half of it, wheelbarrowed it down to the cabin, and stacked it. We brought the rest of the rounds down and stacked them under the eaves of the cabin. That gives me a nice supply of wood for the winter, which I greatly appreciate. It would have been a lot harder to get that wood later after it got covered with a lot of snow.

By the time we finished, it was time for lunch and another series of enjoyable and interesting discussions. The discussions continued through the afternoon while we burned up some of that new firewood.

It started snowing lightly late in the afternoon. I took a shower, and afterward, we had our dinner. It had been pretty cold for Dave downstairs in the bedroom the night before, so he put a few more covers on his bed to make it warmer. I realized that before Ellen and the kids come up for a stay during Christmas, I had better try to plug up the gaps all around the building between the floor and the log walls on the first floor. I'll cut strips of insulation just as I did in the bathroom. That probably won't seal them up completely, but it should help. They'll get sealed completely when the flooring is in and the baseboards are nailed on.

On Thursday morning, Dave said that he had slept a lot warmer. I woke up at 4:00 and couldn't go back to sleep, so at 4:45 I got up and got a fire going in the stove. Dave got up too but after the fire was going, we both went back to bed and slept in until after 7.

We had our breakfast and talked the morning away. We wanted an early lunch so we could get back downtown in time for Dave to catch a ride home with Janet. The loft was too uncomfortably warm, so we brought the toaster and the fixings down and had lunch downstairs. Then we packed up our gear, locked up, and headed for home. I measured 2 inches of new snow on the hood of the truck when we carried our gear down. We left for home at about 12:30.

That was one of the most pleasurable weeks I have spent at Camp Serendipity so far. I'm looking forward to many more like it and to many similar trips where I visit Dave's boat-building project.

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