Friday, July 28, 2006

Log Home Update: Part 35
Framing and Siding

We’re back to just four on the crew this week. Kyle left for Newfoundland, Canada to visit with his grandmother on Monday. He’ll be back in two weeks but will only be with us for two weeks before school starts again.

Jim and Adam worked as a team to complete the exterior trim out all the windows. Then they moved on to the log siding on the south gable and finished that Friday.

Don missed some time for his annual medical exam and a stress test. He passed all tests with flying colors. When he returned, he framed out the door to the utility room in the basement, installed a few more electrical outlets so we aren’t tied down to one location (or circuit), and then framed out the 2 x 6 wall that separates the master bedroom from the bath and stair well.

I framed out the closets in the master bedroom and also one of the walls of the master bathroom.

Exterior window trim
Exterior window trim.

Log siding
Log siding covers some of the Tyvek®.

2 x 6 walls
A portion of the 2 x 6 wall that sits along the stair well.

Master closet framing
The master bedroom closets are framed out in 2 x 4s.

2 x 4 framing
The master bathroom wall as it abuts the loft is also framed out in 2 x 4s.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Friday, July 21, 2006

Two New Arrivals

About five weeks ago, Adam’s family cat gave birth to what became a litter of three kittens. At the same time, a stray cat gave birth to a litter of equal size beneath Adam’s shed. Suddenly they had a huge surplus of little kittens at Adam’s house. (They also had a Golden Lab pup to go along with four kids aged 9 to 15—including twins! Talk about crowded.) Hearing him talk about the kittens’ progress nearly every day, got me to thinking—always a dangerous thing.

To make a long story short, I took two of the little ones home with me. One came from each litter. (They both came from the same litter and are, therefore, brother and sister. Their mom is Adam's family cat.) One is almost totally black but has a white cross on its chest and a patch of white at the groin. The other is a gray and black tiger with a white chin and white rings around both eyes.

Two new additions

The black has been dubbed "Shadow" but I haven't decided upon a name for the tiger yet. (Part of that is due to my uncertainty as to either critter's sex. That's somewhat embarassing for me to admit. After all, I had to sex mice much, much smaller than these little ones when I worked on my Master's Degree.)

Update: Shadow's little partner has officially been dubbed "Chester" or Chet for for short. (Shadow is a little girl. One of each. We will definitely be paying a visit to the vet in the near future to ensure we have no population explosion at the Aerie.)

Log Home Update: Part 34
Stairs, Soffits and Framing Walls

We now have steps inside the house. Don and I worked at measuring and cutting out the stringers and treads for the steps going from the first floor living area up to the second floor loft and master suite and also the stringers and treads down to the basement. Each set had its own little problems to solve. Those going up stairs were constructed from very heavy 4” x 10” timbers and required borrowing a very large hand circular saw to cut. Those going to the basement were constructed from 2” material but, because of the shorter run and steeper rise (and some mental fatigue caused by the hot, humid weather), required some considerable reworking. (Just remember the “measure twice, cut once” adage that we seem to have forgotten.1) It’s always wise to check the headroom at the landing before you cut the risers. Four foot eleven inches will not pass code. 2) Count the number of steps on the riser very, very carefully before you cut the riser—especially if it’s already your second attempt.

Meanwhile, Adam, Jim and Kyle happily worked away on their assigned chores. Adam and Jim (with occasional help from Kyle) finished the soffit under the eaves. Kyle (with some help from Jim) framed out the stud walls and hung some sheets of sheetrock. Sometimes teams would share jobs or switch members as the need arose.

Kyle, the stud man, works on one of “his” walls.
(Kyle participates in biathlons—a combination of bicycle and running—in his spare time. His training includes 30 to 50 mile bike rides around the county. Maybe we’re not working him hard enough?)

Don goes electric
Don goes electric. Here he is wiring up one of the boxes that will supply power to the garage door openers.

Jim and Adam at work
Jim and Adam work on installing the soffit under the eaves. They finished the job Friday morning.
(Jim, on the left, races a Honda ATV on weekends with his twin brother, John. And really, really loves his Dodge truck! He’s available, ladies, but he requests you send pictures of your ATV if you’re interested!)

stud walls erected on the first floor
Having stud walls in place really gives you a feel for room size and layout.

living room stairs
These steps from the first to the second floor were placed temporarily as a dry fit and then taken down to put a wood plate against the sheetrock wall. While they were up, Simon, our "watch dog" tried to go up them. One of the treads slipped and went tumbling down. Simon made it safely to the top but it scared him so badly he hid in the truck for the rest of the day. He also refused to come to work the next day.

As mentioned, Don and I also installed the stairs down to the basement—twice. Or maybe I should say two-and-a-half times.

Ken, the heating maven, came back to put some more touches on his masterpiece-in-progress. He’ll return in a couple of weeks when we’re ready to put the heat into the master bath.

Kitchen and bath designer, Jessica from HEP came by to discuss her design for the kitchen and master bath with my better half on Wednesday. We also took delivery on vanities, toilets and such for the baths as wells as a cistern with attendant pump to augment the low output (only 2 gallons per minute) from the well (only 130 feet deep).

Progress! You've gotta love it!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Log Home Update: Part 33
Soffits, Heating,
Electricity Shooting into the Walls

I’ve got two weeks of catching up to do. (Well, it’s actually less than that due to the July 4th holiday and the fact that Don and crew spent this past Monday and Tuesday doing a roofing job in town for another client.)

When I returned from my fishing trip, I found that the guys had made some big steps.

Adam and Kyle installed the soffits on all three gable ends as well as the eaves of the dormer. The two prow gables required many angle cuts and trips up and down the ladder.

New meter box was installed.
Don spent his time working on the electricity. He installed the permanent meter box on the exterior home.

Breaker box
And the breaker box inside the basement.

Heat 1
The heating crew continued to work on the space-age control center for the radiant floor heating.

As mentioned, Don and crew were busy elsewhere Monday and Tuesday of this week. While they were away, I cut firewood and did some woods clean-up.

When they returned to duty of Wednesday, we had visitors from the power company.

Kyle, who intends to become a lineman after graduating high school next year, got an impromptu lesson on how to climb a pole.

After the power was switched from the temporary meter to the house, Don wired up a few outlets—one in the garage, one in the basement and one on the first floor. The last required cutting a hole in the log wall.

Walls & Stairs
Don also erected the stud wall that will form the wall against which the stairs from the first to second floor will be set. He also built the base of the landing and laid out one of the stringers for the stairs.

Adam, Jim, Kyle and I nearly finished the installation of the pine floors for the second floor. This also serves as the ceiling for the first floor.

In addition, materials for the first floor and basement bathrooms have been delivered, the fireplace and the lights ordered.

Altogether, the seven workdays of the past two weeks have been rather productive.

Saturday, July 08, 2006


Cesna take off
Joe (and some gear) head back to Coursol Base aboard the Cessna.

Beaver taxies in
Only moments later, the Beaver taxies to the dock for the rest of us.

Unlike the Cessna which took off heading south on the lake, the Beaver started a short distance from the eastern shore, headed right toward the cabin and lifted from the water just 40-50 yards from the dock. It veered sharply to the north and headed down the long stretch of lake slowly climbing as it went. A bigger, more powerful plane than the Cessna, it doesn’t climb very quickly and so you tend to fly between the hills just after taking off rather than climbing sharply over them.

Fishing Photos: Part 2

Most of Caesar’s camps are situated so you get a private setting. A few, especially those on Gouin Reservoir, are within a few kilometers of another dwelling. At Simard, you have the entire lake as well as a few outlying lakes to yourself.
From the cabin
This is the view looking north from the cabin.

From the cabin 2
This is the view to the east. Sitting on the deck of the cabin, this is your view.

To the southeast. (The lake forks around the point and goes about 1.5 kilometers south on the far side of the point with yet two more large coves of approximately a square kilometer each to the east. This side of the point...

From the cabin 4
...there is a section of the lake that is only 0.5 kilometers long.

Looking west from the lake
The view west from the cabin isn't much as you are snugged up against the trees, but once out on the water, especially at sun set, the west view can be magnificent.

Night fall
The waxing gibbous moon hangs over the trees to the south and the cabin is to the right of center. (Follow the line of the treetops down from the left or the blue of the water. Both point right to the cabin.)

Night fall 2
Taken just a few seconds later and the shades of blue have changed.

Fishing Photos: Part 1

Coursol Base
David and Joseph (his brother) were the first to depart Coursol with orders to get a fire going at the cabin after they stowed all the gear. Their transport was a Cesna.

In the 40 minute flight north you could see two large powerlines, one train track, and the Clova Road. All ran east-west.
Flying North 1
Joe, Steve and I along with the remainder of our gear flew in the Beaver.

Flying North 2
As we moved further north we came upon some clear-cut areas. From the air they look like small suburban developments, cul-de-sacs and all. All the fir trees are harvested for paper pulp or chip board.

Flying North 3
We skirted the west side of Gouin Reservoir, a huge body of water.

Flying North 4
Many bays and small islands make for lots of structure on the Gouin. Caesar's has four cabins along the shores of some of those bays and many others on lakes adjacent to the reservoir.

At Simard
On Monday we were hard pressed to remember the rain, wind, fog, etc. that delayed our flights on Sunday. (A little of each would return during the week to remind us, however.)

Camp visitor
This bear ("Scarface" because it had an open cut above its right eye), a cinnamon and another, larger black came into camp on Wednesday night. We think it was probably a sow and her two two-year-old offspring. (Can't very well call them "cubs" when they would weigh between 150 and 180 pound!)

This one was fearless and refused to leave when yelled at. It nosed around the cabin for nearly an hour and came back the next night for more investigation.

This is one of the two species of fish we were looking for. This specimen is only about 15 inches long and would have been fillet if we were still keeping them. Breaded and fried or baked, walleye fillets are one of the best tasting fish dishes around.

Steve caught the largest: 21.5 inches and 5.5 pounds.

We caught 41 in four days (5 people) although some of us were looking more for 40-inch plus northern pike. We ate 4 and filleted 6 to bring home and returned the rest to the lake. (We also caught 75 pike during our four days but none was larger than 29 inches.)

Lake Simard: 2006

We left The Bolt Hole (my cabin in the Adirondacks) at 10 PM Saturday night. Joe, Joseph, David and Steve had arrived around 2 PM in the afternoon having hit a major tie-up on the NY Thruway on the way up from NJ.

Our drive north through Ottawa was uneventful although, as usual, that city was hopping even at 2 AM. Apparently they had a massive fireworks show and the after party was just breaking up (i.e. the bars were closing down) and there were pedestrians all over Nicolas and Rideau.

We made our gas stop at Maniwaki at around 4:30 AM and hit the end of the dirt road off highway 117 at about 5:30. We parked to nap for an hour and then, with enough light to see the washouts, rocks and other hazards, headed down the 104 miles of good dirt road. (Let’s not talk about some of the bridges!)

We reached Coursol Base at 9:30 AM to discover the two groups who were supposed to fly out at 8 AM and 9 AM were still there. The low ceiling had kept all the seaplanes grounded for two hours. They were just starting to fly.

The first group got off …and things ground to a halt again. The Beaver had developed electrical problems on one of the out lakes. The pilot could not get the plane restarted. The Cesna was required to investigate the problem and that brought things to a stand still. The 9 AM group (from Pittsburgh) and we were at Coursol Base for several more hours. Most of the parties due to come out of the wilderness were sitting at their cabins waiting, and waiting, and waiting. We at Cousol at least knew what had happened. We were given a cabin with some bunks to nap.

At around 4 PM we learned that the Beaver was back in operation. Apparently it was an alternator kind of problem. The battery wasn’t charging off the running engine so, when the pilot tried to restart the engine, there was insufficient juice to get it to kick over. I have no idea as to how you jump start a plane but they never shut the engine down for the rest of the day. Oliver took over the piloting chores also; he being owner and the most senior pilot ferrying people around.

The Pittsburgh group got off to LaRouche around 4:30 aboard the Cesna. Then the rest of the Pittsburgh crowd departed aboard the Beaver (no stoppage of the engine!) We were given a very nice spaghetti dinner by John the caretaker at Coursol. Two of the LaRouche people got brought back to Coursol and Joseph and David were ferried out to Simard aboard the Cesna. The Beaver returned with the rest of the LaRouche group, and Joe, Steve and I boarded to go to Simard some 40 minutes north. It was 6 PM.

Our fishing wasn’t as great as we had hoped. We landed just 75 northern pike and 41 walleye in the next four days but there were lots of firsts. (Reports from the pilots said things seemed spotty on all the lakes.)

This was Steve’s first true fishing experience. He was teamed up with Joseph and David as instructors and they did pretty well. Steve lost a monster pike that jumped twice before spitting the hook. David estimates it would have broken Joseph’s 40-1/2 inch mark. He (Steve) also landed the largest walleye we have ever caught—a 21-1/2 inch 5-1/2 pounder.

Joe caught a pike on a jitterbug and another on a 6-inch chub he put on a Johnson spoon.

Joe and David both hooked the same pike while jigging for walleye. It took both their black rubber jigs at the same time. Greeding SOB!

Joe and David claim to have figured out this jigging stuff and had some success when the wind let them hold bottom.

We were entertained by a pair of loons that held a marathon chase right in front of the cabin for over 15 minutes and that covered at least 3 kilometers. (They were still going when they rounded a distant point and disappeared from sight.)

Bears visited our camp for the first time. At least three bears, probably a mother and her two 2-year olds ambled into camp Wednesday evening. Mom and a cinnamon took off when they realized someone was home but the other “cub” stuck around looking for fish guts and whatnot. It walked right up to the porch despite my yelling at it and seemed totally unafraid. It returned during the night to investigate the sump into which the kitchen waste water drained and again the next evening before dark to check out our buckets.

Joseph and Steve spotted a bear around a bend in one of the side bays on the other side of the lake. It took off when it saw the boat motoring near so may have been yet a fourth bear.

Our return to Coursol Base on Friday was uneventful and we made just one detour in Ottawa passing in front of the capitol building as we went through the city.

All in all a very nice trip.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

A Fishing We Will Go

I'm taking a week off from construction to go fishing with Joe, Joseph, David and Steve (a newbee to the group). We are currently sitting at my place in the Adirondacks with our trucks are packed and we are just waiting to hit the road--which we will do around 10 PM. We'll be fishing out of Caesar's Lodge facilities on Lac Simard.

We'll make our way over to Watertown and pick up I-81 to the border and then over to Ottawa/Hull and north through Maniwaki to Grand-Remous. Just north of there, we'll hit the 106 mile long dirt road to the seaplane base at Coursol. We should arrive there around 10 AM.

Oliver, owner and chief pilot/guide/sales rep, and his crew will meet us and fly us to Lake Simard where we will fish for the next five days.

We should be back to the cabin in the Adirondacks late Saturday night. I'll post a report on our fishing trip--with pictures--some time on Sunday.

Anything about the log home will have to wait. Don, Adam, Kyle and Jim will be working everyday but Tuesday. I'm sure they will make some great progress without me.