Construction Journal Entry Week of 1/14/18

1/17-21/18 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 5 days: Wednesday through Sunday.

I arrived at 12:20 with just a skiff of new snow on the ground. I had brought quite a few rather heavy loose items with me so when I brought up my bag and the cooler, I got out my trusty old Trapper Nelson backpack and used it to carry up the rest of the gear in one more trip.

I hoisted the flag, started a fire in the stove, had my lunch and then took my usual nap. When I got up it started snowing. I went out and split two big rounds of firewood and stacked it. By then the snow had turned to rain.

On Thursday when I got up I saw that it had snowed 2 inches overnight. Dave called me, and we had another great conversation. Then Robert called and asked me to let Marty Mauney of the DNR know that we are about to resume logging. I called Marty who reminded me to get a burn permit before we do any slash burning. Then before lunch and a nap, I cleared the snow off the porch and the steps.

When I got up, I went out and cleared the snow off the concrete staircase. I wanted to keep it clear for the scouts who were coming up for the weekend.

Next, I went down to the truck and got tools and materials for TJI filler blocks. Installing these blocks between the TJI webs and the joist hangers is one of the remaining items I need to do for final inspection. I will get around to actually installing them one of these days.

I split and stacked some more firewood and then got a clothesline rope for making a set of clotheslines for the scouts to dry their mittens on. Robert called to tell me that he had gotten his skidder running and that he plans to bring it over on Friday. He also told me to call the DNR about getting a burn permit. I told him I would call in the morning.

On Friday morning Robert called again and told me that he would be over about noon to get me. He wanted me to drive him to the skidder and then follow him back to Camp Serendipity as he drove the skidder.

I replaced one of the floodlights outside so the scouts would have plenty of light. Then I went down under the front porch to get the sheet of OSB that I use to make the table up on the porch for the scouts' kitchen. I tried to pick up the sheet by hand, but I discovered that my 77-year-old body can't handle them like it used to. Instead of carrying it up the stairs, I decided to use my porch crane since it was right there. I unwound the power cord, plugged it in, threw in the clutch, lowered the hook to the ground, and then went down to the OSB sheet which I had pulled out and leaned against the stack.

I used a small rope loop to form a choker around the sheet and then went back up on the porch. I let out the clutch, straightened the cable on the drum, and gently winched the sheet of OSB up above the porch rail and stopped. Then I swung the sheet in over the rail and powered the cable out slowly to lower the sheet so that it lay across the rail and a sawhorse.

I unhooked the rigging, slid the sheet so it was across two sawhorses and formed the table, and then I unplugged the winch and put it back where it was. It was a quick and easy process.

I had an early lunch and was finished by noon which is when Robert showed up. I drove him to the Two Rivers gravel pit where his skidder was parked. Robert fired up the skidder and drove it to Camp Serendipity and I followed him to make sure he got there OK. He did.

We walked into the woods for a ways so that Robert could get an idea of the snow conditions in there. Then we went into the cabin. I started making coffee and I realized that I hadn't called about the burn permit. I called the DNR and the guy started asking a lot of questions that Robert could answer better than I could, so I gave the phone to Robert. When he hung up, he told me that I needed to get the burn permit application form from the DNR website, fill it out, and mail it with a check for $105.50 as soon as I got back to Seattle.

Robert left at about 3:30. We had figured that I needed to move my Camp Serendipity sign out of the way so that there would be clearance under it for the skidder. I made a small loop of #9 wire and fastened it to the bottom of the sign. When the time comes I will use the porch crane with its hook in the loop to pull the sign up out of the way. That should be quick and easy.

The skidder is 8' 4" wide so it needs that much clearance on the roadway. Robert was concerned that there might not be enough room so I measured various tight spots and moved stuff, like firewood rounds, firewood, the chopping block, and a hose, out of the way.

On Saturday, Robert showed up about 10:00 with a small snow blower. Another guy came with him in another vehicle and he had an air compressor. One of the tires on the skidder was low so we set about to pump it up. I showed them where there was a power outlet on my meter pole, so we plugged the compressor into that. When the tire was pumped up, the guy left with his compressor.

Robert fired up the skidder and backed it up nearly to my truck on the hairpin turn. He wanted to do some work straightening out the cables on the skidder's winch. Just about then, the first scouts showed up and Robert changed his mind. He drove the skidder back where it had been parked near the power pole. He also unloaded his snow blower and then parked his truck out across the road so it wouldn't get trapped in by the scout bus. But we soon learned that they weren't bringing the bus after all. They had rented two vans and they had about three cars and a pickup for their gear. There were 33 boys and girls and 5 adult leaders.

While the scouts were arriving and setting up their camps, Robert and I worked on getting the snow blower up onto the upper roadway. We had some trouble. First, the snow was so heavy and deep that the snow blower would high center and get stuck. We solved that by getting the rope I used to pull firewood rounds out of the woods. Using the rope which was tied to the machine, I pulled the machine from the front while Robert operated it from the back. With a little effort, we got it up to the top.

But when Robert tried to start it, the starter rope handle came off and the rope got sucked inside. I got some tools and Robert removed a cowling and repaired the rope and handle. Then Robert proceeded to clear some channels through the snow, but we realized that in the places where it was firmly packed under trails, it had to be broken up with shovels first. And even at that, it was pretty slow. I think we could shovel it faster by hand.

Robert left at about 3:00 and I continued shoveling through the two berms that were under the eaves. Some of the scouts pitched in and helped me so that we ended up making an 8' + path all the way across the upper roadway.

In addition to a lot of tents, the scouts made 3 or 4 snow caves by hollowing out the big snow piles that Mike had made when he scooped out my driveway. I think that about 5 boys ended up sleeping through the night in the caves. Others were abandoned at different times as the boys went into tents instead.

The adult leaders cooked a meal on the porch for the adults and they invited me. They served a nice thick chicken stew of some sort, and an apple cobbler for dessert, all cooked in Dutch ovens.

The cabin was a beehive of activity with the older boys and girls playing board games on tables upstairs and down. The younger boys were around the wood stove trying to dry off their boots, socks, gloves, and jackets. They were somewhat successful. We all went to bed around 9:00.

On Sunday morning, it started snowing during breakfast and it snowed more and more as time went on. There was a big snowfall forecast and the scouts decided to leave early so they could get over the pass without trouble. They began packing up and they left by 9:30. Then I packed up my gear, closed the place up, and left for home at 10:15. It had been a fun, but rather long week.

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