Construction Journal Entry Week of 3/18/18

3/20-22/18 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

I arrived at noon on a beautiful, sunny day. The loggers were not there. I parked at the hairpin turn so that my walk to the cabin would be shorter and carried my gear up. I hoisted the flag and started a fire in the wood stove. I wasn't sure whether to expect Robert to show up, so I called him. He said he would not be coming over until the next day because he wanted to work on assembling the engine for the jammer.

I had my lunch and a nap and then went back down to the truck and unloaded a bunch of yard waste. Then I went to work straightening up the privy. I had given a lot of thought as to how to go about it, and I put my plan into action.

I brought a stout rope, a shovel, and a 10-foot 4x4 up to the privy and started in. The first thing I wanted to do was to remove the broken beam. After checking to make sure that there was no longer any load from the privy on the beam, I removed the 2x10 from on top of the beam. Then I removed some of the concrete blocks and shims that had been holding the beam up. Then I tightened the noose at the end of the stout rope around one end of the broken beam, which was now lying on the ground under the privy but inside of the replacement beam that was now holding up that side of the privy.

Using the rope, I gently pulled the beam all the way out from under the privy making sure I didn't dislodge, or even touch, any of the supports that were now holding up the building. Once the beam was out of there, I removed all the loose concrete blocks, rocks, and boards that were under the privy.

The next step was to raise the replacement beam up about 6 or 8 inches in order to make the floor of the privy level. To do that, I positioned a newly-cut firewood round near each end of the beam. They served as fulcrums for the 10-foot 4x4 lever which reached under the end of the beam. The lever was plenty long enough and strong enough so that I could easily lift the end of the beam by pushing down on the lever.

There happened to be some fairly big (maybe 20 lb.) rocks lying nearby, so I picked one up, set it on the lever, and found that it easily and nicely held the lever in position. That left me free to find and insert or replace shims under the end of the beam so that the end of the beam would be raised a couple inches when I removed the counterbalance rock and lowered the beam.

I repeated this process, alternating between the two ends of the beam, until I had the building nice and level. It had been a lot easier to do than I had expected, and I was very happy to sight past the corner of the privy to walls on the cabin and see that the privy was plumb for a change.

I left the 4x4 up at the privy because I will use it in the same way to lower the privy onto its final foundations once they are built, which I probably won't do until the logging is done. I carried the rope, shovel, and 2x10 back to the cabin. While I was in the crawlspace, I removed the Styrofoam blocks from the vents since I don't think there is any danger of it freezing in there until next winter.

Since the snow had melted back so much, I walked up to check on the giant sequoia named Paul. As I expected, the snow around it was completely gone and the tree was trying to stand upright and get some sun. I helped it a little by using the sign post to hold it up a little straighter. The leaves were a healthy-looking color, but they were drooped over. I'd like to see them reach up to the sky. I'm hoping they will now that most of their competition for sunlight has been removed.

On Wednesday morning I went out and started burning brush at 8:00. I started fires in two of our burn piles and stoked each one with a lot of brush that was still lying around. I went in for a water break at 9:30. Robert and Tim arrived at about 9:45 and the three of us continued burning brush until about 11:30.

At that point, we broke out the Ballpark Franks and roasted hot dogs over one of the fires for our lunch. When we finished, Robert put on his climbing gear and climbed the big mistletoe-infected Doug fir right behind the old privy site. He got three quarters of the big clump cut away before his chainsaw developed a problem and he had to quit. The three of us burned the branches he had cut until 1:30 when the two of them left. I continued burning more brush for a while and then went in for a short nap.

When I got up, I went back out and dragged the broken beam I had pulled out from under the privy and laid it across one of the burn piles. Since the beam was rotten and broken, it quickly burned all the way through so that I could lay each half across the fire.

Next, I got a shovel and shoveled a big pile of snow onto the slope above Paul, the sequoia tree. The snow had all melted above the tree and I wanted to give it a little water.

On Thursday morning, Dave called, and we had another delightful conversation until 9:00 when the loggers showed up. They came in for coffee and a short visit before the three of us went out to work. Robert climbed back up and finished cutting the mistletoe; Tim and I burned the brush as it came down, and we all roasted hot dogs when we were done. They left at noon and I left for home at about 12:50. It was another great week.

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