Construction Journal Entry Week of 5/2/21

5/3-7/21 I went up to Camp Serendipity for five days: Monday through Friday.

I started the morning by meeting Dave and Bill downtown for breakfast. We had a delightful visit. Then I went back home, packed my gear, and left for the mountains. I arrived at Camp Serendipity at 1:50. I carried my gear up in two trips, hoisted the flag, built a fire in the stove, and had my lunch and my nap. I didn't do much the rest of the afternoon.

On Tuesday after practicing the piano I went out and did some surveying around the driveway entrance. I wanted to establish a point on the outcrop west of the driveway and I wanted a firm anchor at that point to which I could attach the end of the 100-foot tape. After thinking about options, I decided to use the Bulldog, drill a 1/4-inch hole, and fasten an anchor to the rock.

After stringing the extension cords out, I used a rather dull quarter-inch bit to make the hole. It worked, sort of, but after the bit had entered the rock about an inch and a half, it got stuck. I couldn't pull it back out. The bit was loose and sloppy in the hole, but it was still stuck. Even trying to pry it out with a claw hammer it wouldn't budge.

I was convinced the bit was ruined anyway so I decided to just leave it in the rock and use it as my anchor. I made a hook of rebar tie wire, fastened it to the bit, and I had my anchor.

After stringing the tape multiple times and making a bunch of measurements I decided to quit. I brought in all my tools. All, that is except for my hammer. I looked around for the hammer but couldn't find it.

After having my lunch, I went back outside with the intention of doing an exhaustive search. After 10 or 15 minutes I found the hammer in a deep thicket of brush. I brought the hammer back to the cabin and then had my nap.

When I got up, I began drawing a map of the property. I started with the map that we got from the county when we bought the property. I had a nice big sheet of paper, two or three feet wide, that I fastened to the table in the loft and my plan was to make a contour map of the property that would fit on that sheet.

After some measurements and calculations, I decided on a scale of 1 inch equals 30 feet. I wrote that scale at the lower right-hand corner of the sheet of paper and then began drawing the property boundary. In addition to the property boundaries, the county map showed the road and the surveying reference data. That allowed me to reproduce the map at my scale.

In my surveying, I had established six points on the edges of the pavement, including one at the property corner, and the plan was to use those to locate the points I had established on my map. Unfortunately, I had left the sheet of paper containing my surveying data at home so I couldn't draw any of the points on my map.

In the evening, when Ellen called, she was nice enough to find the piece of paper with my surveying data and she dictated the numbers to me so that I could copy them down. That was really helpful. Now I could begin completing my map.

On Wednesday after practicing the piano, Robert called and told me he would bring my scaffold frames back today. After we hung up, I cut and installed one baseboard section in the utility room. Then I went back to work on my map using the numbers Ellen had dictated and began filling in my drawing.

Robert showed up in his pickup pulling a trailer with the scaffold frames. He backed the trailer into the hairpin turn and together we carried the 8 frames and cross braces up the hill and stacked them against the front of the building. He offered to help me bring them into the crawl space and store them, but I wanted them outside. I have decided to set up a scaffold tower in front of the big windows and repair the broken window with glue. I will also wash the windows while I am up there.

Before he left, Robert went up on the bluff with me and looked at Paul, the sequoia tree, as well as a couple of the transplanted cedars. He saw the tallest one and he saw the one I had rescued from the falling tree. He also saw the evidence of me getting my saw unstuck from the log. Then back at the cabin, he gave me three chainsaw files that were the right size for my saw. He showed me how to file the chain correctly and he filed the entire chain.

After lunch and a nap, I replaced a failing plug on the end of one of the extension cords I had used. But after replacing the plug, I dissected the old one and couldn't see that it was broken. So, it is still a mystery as to why the plug had intermittently failed.

Next, I went back to drawing more points on my map and finished placing all the points I had established. I was very pleased with the results. It looks like it's pretty accurate.

On Thursday after practicing the piano I made a device that I had dreamed up which I plan to use to begin establishing contour lines. I call it my Contour Strider. The device is a simple upside-down V made of two 1x2s clamped together at the top. Then a short beeping level is clamped to the top of the device. With the two legs standing on a level surface, I adjusted the beeping level so that it beeped. Then to use the Contour Strider, I simply put one foot of the device on a known point of elevation, and then swing the other foot around until it reaches the ground when the level beeps. That means I have found a second point about 3 feet from the first one that is on the same contour. Then by pivoting the device around that leg I establish a third point the same way. In this way the Contour Strider just walks along a contour line.

To mark the contour line on the ground I simply laid a long clothesline rope on the ground over the points that I had found. Using this method, I laid out 50 or 60 feet of clothesline rope that went from the compost pile across the driveway, and part way up the slope toward the cabin. The line went into thick brush at that point, so I stopped.

Next, I took a half a dozen short sticks and just laid them on top of the rope five or six feet apart to mark points I wanted to establish. Then with the 100-foot tape anchored at known points, I measured and recorded the distances between each of those sticks and two known points. Then I moved the short sticks further along on the rope and repeated the procedure.

The procedure was pretty simple and efficient and in no time I had the data I needed to draw 50 or 60 feet of contour on my map. The plan is to use this method to, little by little, develop a contour map of the entire property. Finally, after 30 years of thinking about it, I have a method of producing a detailed topographic map of Camp Serendipity by myself.

After having my lunch, I couldn't wait to draw, so I used the new data to draw the contour line on my map. Then after seeing the satisfactory results, I took my nap.

I spent the rest of the afternoon doing some reading and some writing.

On Friday morning, after practicing the piano I vacuumed the first floor. Then I went outside to check on Paul's irrigation system and just as I was approaching the tree, I looked up and saw a beautiful deer standing motionless and broadside to me about 30 feet away. I instantly froze. We both just stared at each other for a few seconds and then I started gently talking to the deer. Pretty soon the deer turned and slowly started walking away. At that point, a second deer I hadn't seen to my left jumped up and bounded away. Then the first deer also broke into a run and disappeared. That was a pleasant, unexpected experience.

After checking on Paul, I returned to the cabin, had my brunch, and then left for home at 12:00 o'clock. It had been another great week and I was especially happy with my plan for finally getting a map.

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