Construction Journal Entry Week of 10/14/12

10/16-18/12 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

On the way I stopped in and visited with Uncle Charles for a while.

The drive over the pass was stunningly gorgeous. The leaves were at their peak, the mountains had a fresh coat of snow, and the recent rains had cleaned and brightened the multi-colored leaves. It was beautiful. There was a little snow in the air going over the pass but the snow level was a couple hundred feet higher. There was snow on Nason Ridge and on Dirtyface Mountain.

I arrived at Camp Serendipity at about 1:00. Bert and Ernie were there to greet me so they got their hugs and biscuits after I carried my gear up to the cabin. It was raining slightly and it was a little chilly, so I started a cozy fire in the wood stove.

Just as the fire got going, Earl knocked at the front door. He came in and we had a nice long chat. He continues to look better and better each time I see him. He said he was due for his Parkinson's meds, but after a few small tremors, he settled down and didn't seem to need the meds right away. He seems to have the symptoms pretty much under control. I took a couple pictures of him.

After Earl left, I had my lunch and a short nap. It was after 3:00 by the time I went out to work so I only had time to cut and nail up one ceiling board which finished up the first course.

On Wednesday the air was clear and the sky was blue. No smoke and no rain. That was a joy to see. Since the weather was supposed to be dry for this one day, I decided to take advantage of it and work outside. Now that we had had rain, it was safe to chainsaw in the woods again so I decided to harvest more of that tree that had fallen in my sequoia grove.

Before I did, though, I took on another job that has been nagging me, and that was to straighten a section of the trail going to the sequoia grove. The sequoia trail intersected an earlier trail at a right angle and it was always awkward making that corner with the wheelbarrow. Since I use the sequoia trail much more than the other trail now, I decided to cut a short cut through the vine maple thicket.

Cutting the stumps of vine maples out of the way is hard because they are sort of woven and laced into the ground. I don't like using my chainsaw in the dirt but if you don't get those stumps out it's hard to run a wheelbarrow over them. So it took me an hour or two of hard work to straighten the trail and make it so it will handle a wheelbarrow. The work will pay off in the long run though.

With the trail straightened, I went to work bucking up another 30 or 40 feet of the log. I hauled out one wheelbarrow full of wood before I took a break.

After lunch and a nap, I went back outside and worked on the driveway gate. The pivot post was pretty rotten and had split apart. The part with the rebar pin was still intact and it bore the weight of the gate log and was still working. But I rigged a come-along with the cable wrapped around the split post and drew it together. Then I bound the post up with rope to hold it together. It only needs to last until the snow comes and I take the gate down. Next spring I'll replace that post with a new one.

Next I hauled out and stacked all of the firewood rounds that I had bucked. I had also stacked a lot of the branches from the fallen tree in a pile, so I used the chainsaw to buck up that pile of branches. It made two full wheelbarrow loads of kindling. I now had a nice supply of firewood that should last me well through the winter.

During the work in the woods, I was visited by a Canadian Jay. Unfortunately I had forgotten to bring peanuts with me, so even though the jay landed on my hand, he had to fly away empty beaked. He didn't give me a second chance. After I got the peanuts, he didn't show up again.

That evening at 10:30 I was in bed and was startled by the sound of a huge explosion coming from the direction of the back door. I also felt the cabin shake so my first thought was earthquake. But then there was a quick succession of more explosions and the sound of some pretty heavy stuff sliding down the roof. At that moment I knew what had happened: a tree must have fallen onto the cabin.

I got up, went downstairs, and went out onto the back porch to see what had happened. I saw that a tree had broken off at the ground and had fallen over and hit the cabin. The butt log was still leaning against the roof. It was pitch dark so I couldn't see much more or whether or not there was any damage to the cabin. I went back to bed tossing and turning wondering what the damage was and what I was going to do in the morning.

On Thursday morning, when I got up, I called Robert Ferrel and left a message telling him what had happened and asking for his help. Before I finished my breakfast, Robert called back and told me that he would be able to come over at about 9:00. I was overjoyed.

He said I was lucky because he was leaving town in 24 hours to fly to Virginia where he is going to compete in the US Open 9-ball pool tournament. He was going to spend most of the day practicing but he would have time to come over and help me.

I went out and did some rigging while I waited for Robert. The tree had broken off just a foot or so above where it hit the roof so the entire top of the tree had fallen down on the roof and slid off. I'm not sure whether the top broke into pieces before it hit the roof or after it hit, but it was broken into a half dozen pieces that were now lying on the ground. The butt log was leaning against the eave.

First I attached a cable to the top of the log where it hit the roof. Then I strung the cable over toward the septic tank and attached it to a come-along which was chained to a tree. I was in the process of rigging a second cable to be able to pull sideways on the log when Robert showed up with his helper, Paul Beebee. After surveying the situation, Robert took charge and decided what to do. Robert directed the activities and the three of us ended up lowering the log safely to the ground.

First, Robert climbed high up the remaining tree and draped a rope over a sturdy branch. Then he rappelled down to the ground from there. Then he attached one end of the rope to the top of the log against the cabin and the three of us hauled on the other end of the rope. That lifted the log away from the roof.

The two of them held the log up while I started cranking on the come-along. After the cable tightened up, it began to take weight off of the rope. Robert directed Paul and me whether and when to tighten or slacken our cable and rope so that the log was lowered to the ground neatly and safely. The whole process was smooth and efficient and I was very grateful. I took pictures of some of the process and later made a video of them.

Robert and Paul came inside the cabin to take a look at the stair stringer I had made from the last tree Robert had falled for me. We also talked at length about pool. I am going to try to see Robert play either on the computer or on TV. I hope I can.

After I paid them for the work, they left, and it was not yet 10:00. I picked up and put away my rigging equipment and then just sat in the cabin calming down and marveling at how lucky I had been. Not only was there no damage to the roof or the cabin, Robert had been available to help with what could have been a pretty dangerous job for me to do all by myself, although I think I could have done it. I had my lunch and left for home a little early at 12:15. It had turned out to be another pretty exciting week.

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