Monday, June 13, 2011

Totally Off Topic

Alright, this is very off topic, but after scanning much conflicting information on the Internet, I thought I'd throw it out there.

Does anyone know when or if the Forest Service turns off the water in Southern California, specifically as it pertains to the stops along the Pacific Crest Trail?

I have read November 1st. However, I have also read that people can take 5 months for a Southbound hike which does not mathematically add up to before November 1st.

Anyone with any info?

Thursday, June 09, 2011

The Building of Our House: The Trip to Home Depot

When we purchased our little fishing shack (called The Cabin) we had to realize a couple things: 1) It was old and rustic, 2)It was so far in the middle of nowhere that any work now or in the future would have to be done ourselves, and 3)We were basically forcing ourselves to become Luddites in many ways. The experience has been quite wonderful, but also a bit intense at times. Before reading this you many want to check out why we purchased The Cabin, as well as the first post about our building process.

The second weekend we didn't accomplish much. The Barracuda and I stayed in The Cabin most of the week and were able to finish off pulling down walls and prepping the space for insulation. By the time the weekend rolled around, Jules was able to come up, and word had gotten out about the new owners. We began to get visitors.

Visitors in the city were no big deal. People knock, pop in for a couple minutes, get business done and then have to go off to another hurried activity. After a week, Dae and I were already starting to recognize woods time. Woods time is much like island time - things move much, much slower. People drop by, and stay a while. Whenever you wake up, you wake up. Whenever something gets done, it gets done. You don't laze about, but you definitely don't hurry. In woods time, you enjoy your surroundings and let the chips fall as they may.

Many rope swings exist around the lake for both adults and children to enjoy. No one owns them; they just hang there daring any brave souls to try the terrifying exhilarating ride. Woods time is much like a Hallmark Movie of the Week.

Here, visitors will drop by and then want to talk. They will show up and then stand discussing. Sometimes they bring beer or wine and stay to have a little. Jules and I didn't know how to be socially appropriate and hint at needing to get back to work. We tried everything that worked in the city, no dice. By the time the third person popped in, we just decided to go with it. When in Rome, listen like Romans.

What did happen to get done, was the supply trip to Home Depot. As big box stores go, our family is not a major fan. However, when you have one giant purchase to make, they can simplify the process significantly. This was the case with Home Depot. We wanted to purchase all our materials (or dang near) in one go. With everything in one place we could then be free to work without the limitations of supply issues. It also meant that we wouldn't be spending extra dollars on both gas and impulse items (such as the drill holster that Jules felt was highly imperative but still sits unused).

The closest Home Depot was a mere 29 miles from our house. I know this because I remember every single mile...

We had saved up 2,000 dollars for repairs on the house and an extra 500 each month from expenses. We figured that was enough money to do a pretty good overhaul. After taking down the walls and living in the space for a week, we compiled a giant list and went off.

The Home Depot is located on the farthest possible edge of what could be called the closest town. It seems very out of place in the small strip mall which includes a Bi-Mart, a combination adult shop/truck stop, and a restaurant called "Spooky's" which seems to serve everything from pizza and hamburgers to Chinese and Italian.

It was a very long trip. The staff was very helpful. All four carts were very full. By the time we were through the will call booth and everything was established for us to drive it all home things were looking pretty good. Because we were only using our normal truck to haul everything, multiple trips were necessary. We grabbed a giant pile of insulation, the water heater, the paint, stacks of silicon caulking, and a bunch of miscellaneous electrical supplies and headed for the car. Jules is the master packer. He can get items into small spaces like a Tetris champion. Most of the bulk insulation order was jammed in, but still some small space remained. The giant bundle pack wouldn't fit, he reasoned, but a few of the individual rolls would. Out came the pocket knife, the plastic was slashed, and then we watched in complete horror as the bundle of insulation began to grow. It expanded, and expanded, and then continued to keep swelling. Once removed from pressure, it was easily three or four times the previous size. The couple of rolls didn't fit much better than the one bundle. No problem, the skies were clear, we were on woods time, we'd just make another trip. Two trips turned into three, no biggie.

The first two trips were no issue...but the third one was sure a doosie. By the time the first two loads were placed into the cabin, more neighbors had visited by kayak, and we were set to head out for a third, time was beginning to dwindle down. All of our purchase had to be picked up before closing time. Back we headed and the skies began to cloud over. We still were fairly secure in our last venture, after all the camper top was on the truck so nothing would get wet.

This is what we had hoped for. See all that blue sky, a nice breeze in the air, easily fitting underlayment with the other miscellaneous items stuffed beneath. Wasn't meant to be!

Then the underlayment wouldn't fit inside. It just wasn't going to work. We had to run inside and buy more rope since we hadn't brought enough. Rope was strung through the front windows, pinning The Barracuda and I into the car. Twine was then employed to help strap the large, lightweight boards onto the roof of the car. Tarps were pulled out from the hidden recesses of the truck and the last roll of insulation was covered and bound to the back tailgate and bumper. Everything was strapped down as much as possible as the raindrops began to sprinkle.

Over on this side of the Cascades, the precipitation is quite a bit less. We weren't exceptionally worried about some water. What we hadn't counted on were the thunder storms. When the warm side of the Cascades hits the cooler wet side, things get a bit interesting. We definitely hadn't figured in the wind. You know all that wind surfing and kite boarding people come from all over the U.S. to do? It is because of the extreme and unpredictable wind!

All it took was leaving the exit ramp for the first gust hit. It caught the underlayment like a giant sail and caused a startled look between Jules and I. The windows were quickly rolled down and any free hands were used to hold everything on top of the car as much as possible. It wasn't too long before The Barracuda was pulling on the ropes inside the car as extra weight trying to keep it all together. Images of crazed college activities flashed through my mind. We looked like some bizarre episode of the Beverly Hill Billies driving down the highway.

Twenty nine miles would have been long enough to hang out the window of a car moving down the highway clinging to items strapped on top, but with the pelting rain it felt much more like 40 miles. At about mile 10 my hands began to go a bit numb, my grip lessened a smidgen, Jules alternated hands on the steering wheel to try and warm up, and we began to laugh at the ridiculousness of our current activity. WHAM! we were hit with another sudden burst of wind. Full attention was regained as the underlayment rose a good 2 inches off the roof. We reluctantly slowed down to less than 45 miles an hour, hazards were put on, and we inched home.

This is our mountain. We live in her shadow, drink water from her glacial melt, and frequently play on her slopes. Every day she is a wonderful reminder of why we moved and what we love. It takes quite a bit to not give her welcoming nod on the way home.

By the time we got to the bridge crossing the Columbia, both Jules and I were soaked. We crossed the bridge and were far too numb/sore/cold to enjoy our mountain. Eventually we made it home with all our stuff intact. It wasn't until we unloaded that we found out all the twine had snapped in the wind. We were literally the only thing holding our conglomeration of crap onto the vehicle. Jules felt this was humorous and incredible. I'm still not quite there.

Clothes and supplies were set out to dry and we watched the store roll over from the porch. The arduous task of schlepping most all of our building materials was over. Now we just had to build a house.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

The Building of Our House: First Things First

When we purchased our little fishing shack (called The Cabin) we had to realize a couple things: 1) It was old and rustic, 2)It was so far in the middle of nowhere that any work now or in the future would have to be done ourselves, and 3)We were basically forcing ourselves to become Luddites in many ways. The experience has been quite wonderful, but also a bit intense at times.

Since we purchased The Cabin "as is," we got everything inside it and waved any inspections before purchase. We had been inside a few times previously, spoken to the owner and had him walk us through the house, but never had anyone formally crawl around in the rafters or underneath. This meant that not only did we not know exactly what we would find once we started, but it also gave us an interesting look into The Cabins previous inhabitants.

We inherited things like 8+ year old tubes of sunscreen, lots of dried up fishing bait, more disposable plastic dishes than I imagined one person could own, an old fold out cot, half secured (and sagging) shelving, 7 fishing poles of various size and effectiveness, a hot plate that didn't work, the oldest microwave I have ever seen, a stool which had half caught fire, a very industrial looking potato gun, and a whole slew of other stuff somewhere between abandoned and forgotten and neglected and abused.

The Master Suite. We had some very swanky living conditions for the first month or so! About 2 weeks in, Jules and I swapped out our Cats Meow bags to experiment with a Ray Jardine 2 person quilt and like it much more.

Most of the first weekend was spent gutting the place of everything that wasn't bolted down (and even a few things that were) so that we could adequately assess the growing money pit we had just purchased.

The plywood walls would need to come down so we could insulate. God only knew what was inside them! The horrible bead board wall would need to be replaced by something that wasn't falling off. The old chimney would need something, but we had no idea what. The trim was in need of a serious face lift. The deck would need to be converted into two separate bedrooms at some point in time. The kitchen and bathroom....well...they had ghetto bachelor pad written all over them. (Jules and I still sit up at night staring at them and wonder what we are going to do).

Have a look into our kitchen insanity! We later discovered that both the shelves and boards on behind me weren't ever secured but merely resting on a couple of bent nails. Needless to say, they came down.

(Click on the Picture to Enlarge)

With the vigor of new adventure upon us, the boys set to work pulling down trim and walls. The Barracuda is required to help us with building the house. If he is going to live in it, he has to help create it. Required is stretching it a bit. All one really has to say is, "Would you like to help _______?" and he is already front and center with a hammer.

Sticking your tongue out while focusing appears to be a genetic trait in our family. I still do it and, as you can see, so does my son. Luckily, Jules finds this endearing.

While they ripped things down, I went old school Cinderella on the floors. I don't think the place had been cleaned since the Reagan administration.

The floors are one of the things I fell in love with almost immediately. They are the original extra wide cedar plank flooring. The color is natural and they are unsealed. Years of use has made them smooth and dense.

The time was productive, but as the midden pile of stuff grew so did the future work. The water heater didn't appear to work, the kitchen faucet leaked, the outdoor patio didn't keep much dry, the single pane windows were barely holding on, and there was a good inch and a half of daylight showing under one corner of the door due to the floor sinking on one end of the house, much of the old electrical would need to be rewired and we were frequently amazed the entire place hadn't burned to the ground years ago. There was still no stove, no refrigerator, no heat, and no storage to put anything.

Before the Master Suite (show above) is rolled out, the fine dining tarp graces the floor. We feast on such delicacies as baked potato soup eaten from plastic SOLO plates the previous owners left.

The craziest part of all this was that we were really, honest to goodness happy. We were laughing and being silly together for the first time in quite a while. The dog was ecstatic outside, the boy was bouncy at learning to use dozens of various tools, both Jules and I were filled with wonder at all the wildlife and serenity around us.

As Thoreau wrote in Chapter 1 of Walden, It would be some advantage to live a primitive and frontier life, though in the midst of an outward civilization, if only to learn what are the gross necessaries of life and what methods have been taken to obtain them; or even to look over the old day-books of the merchants, to see what it was that men most commonly bought at the stores, what they stored, that is, what are the grossest groceries.

And so that was it. This venture of ours into a dilapidated old fishing shack became our mission to find the grossest of the groceries. What did we really need to be happy and how could we find it together?