Construction Journal Entry Week of 5/1/16

5/3-5/16 Bill and I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

This was a very special and fun week. Bill drove up and spent two nights in the cabin. I arrived at 11:11 AM, unloaded my gear and then backed the truck down out of the way so that Bill could park up at the hairpin turn. He was in his fourth week of recovery from a hip replacement so I wanted to shorten his walk up to the cabin as much as I could.

After bringing my gear up and hoisting the flag, I had some lunch. I expected Bill to arrive around 1:00.

After my lunch, I got a call from Paula and we talked for quite a while about various topics. Unknown to me, Bill was trying to call to tell me he was going to be a little late. I spent my time waiting for him by working on the 5000-piece jigsaw puzzle.

Bill finally got through to me saying that he was about a half-hour away. When he pulled up, I went down and directed him to park up high in the hairpin turn and I helped him carry his gear up after he was parked. It was exciting to have him visit again. We always have a great time when he does.

He looked over my various projects and problems and he gave me some good advice on how to handle them. I showed him the tread I was working on and how it didn't fit quite right yet. I decided to do some more work on it. I might have done a little on it that afternoon, but we left the job for the next day.

After dinner, Bill worked on the puzzle while I took a shower. Then we talked pretty far into the night. Bill went to bed in the loft and I slept in the bedroom downstairs. Bill was able to handle the stairs remarkably well and he claimed that climbing them was good exercise and helped his recovery.

On Wednesday, after breakfast, we went down to the back staircase and I worked on the tread with Bill watching and giving me good advice. The first puzzle was that the tread seemed to be aligned worse than it had the previous evening. I was prepared to cut off a lot more wood to make it fit, but it didn't seem right that it should be so different from the day before.

I got out my big mason's level and checked the rails and discovered that they were out of level. Bill asked if maybe my gauge rails might be bent. He suggested using the level to check the straightness of the 2x4. Sure enough, one of them had a substantial bend at the end of it. That made it appear that the tread was off. It had rained quite a bit during the night so the rail was pretty wet. That must have warped it because it was nice and straight the day before. After factoring in the bent gauge rail, we agreed that the tread fit close enough.

At some point we went into the woods and had a look at some of the giant sequoia trees. Bill was able to walk on the trails with no trouble except for stepping over a log. But even that he was able to do with no help from me. We visited Paul first, then went into the woods and had a look at Dan, Dave, Bill, and Cam. We could see Brian too, but Bill did not try to climb the hill to get up there.

In the afternoon, we posed for a couple pictures and then went back to work on the staircase. I cleaned up the stringers around the tread site and then stained the stringer notches and the two bottom treads. Then I drilled the holes for the lag screws and screwed the new tread into the staircase.

Next, I dismantled the next temporary plank tread by backing out the eight screws on each end. One of the screws had broken so I cut the top of the screw out of the gusset with an axe. I got the bottom of the screw out of the stringer by using the bulldog to dig a hole around it and a vise-grip to grab it and screw it back out. It was pretty hard to back the screw out because it was tight into a knot. That was evidently why it had broken in the first place.

With the temporary tread out of the way, we went up to the woodshed and dragged a tread blank down to the staircase. I laid it on the sawhorses and used the power planer to plane off the round side and chamfer the curved edges.

Then we set up the jig to suspend the next tread for scribing. I screwed the two plywood pieces to the ends of the tread blank and then used clamps and 1x2s to get the tread suspended properly above its intended final position.

When it was ready, I drove a nail into the vertical gauge board at the correct distance for this tread. Then, with that board hanging on the gauge rail by that nail, I showed Bill how I calibrated my scriber simply by setting it to the distance between the bottom of the gauge board and the top of the tread blank. Then I aligned the scriber by using the crawl space door jamb as the vertical reference.

With the scriber set, I began scribing the tread blank. It was awkward, as usual, getting around the back to scribe where I couldn't quite reach from the front. In my gyrations, I accidentally hit a button on the phone I carry on my belt. I took the phone off my belt, turned it off, and set it down on the steps so I wouldn't have that problem again.

Then while I was squirming around trying to reach in to scribe, I accidentally stuck my hand into the fresh stain. Just then Ellen made her usual phone call to me. Since I needed to clean the stain off my hand, Bill answered the phone while I found a rag and wiped off my hand.

After our conversation with Ellen, we put the tools away and went in for the evening. We had our dinner and another delightful conversation that went until about midnight. Bill read the write-ups that Ellen had made explaining the history of the antique clock, the handmade trunk, and the heirloom bookcase. Then Bill wanted me to open up the bronze model of Mt. Rainier so he could take a look at it. His place in Packwood is just outside the boundary of the park so it is not on the model, but much of the road that Bill travels is on the model. He was also interested in the Cowlitz Glacier because it forms the headwater of the Cowlitz River which runs right by his place.

Bill was also interested in the emergency food we had stored so I showed some of it to him. We finally went to bed and Bill reassured me that he had no problem sleeping in the same room with the loud half-hourly bonging from the old clock.

On Thursday morning, we had another series of delightful conversations as we had our breakfast and did the dishes. We didn't do any more work outside. After posing for a final picture, Bill left shortly after noon. I closed things up after he left and I got on the road at about 12:45. That visit with Bill was one of the ultimate rewards of building the cabin and it is really what the entire project is all about. It was a truly wonderful three days.

Go to Next Journal Entry
Previous Journal Entry

Index to all Journal Entries
Go To Home Page

©2016 Paul R. Martin, All rights reserved.