Wednesday, August 30, 2006

August 29th - Power On, Righteous Dude!

Another milestone day. This morning while Joe was moving material out of the way in front of the house, I pulled the old service off the front of the cabin. What a difference it made in how the old cabin looks.

Before lunch I managed to finish running plumbing for the kitchen and venting it up into the old cabin. I will tie this vent and the other inside of the cabin together near the peak of the roof of the old cabin.

At lunch time the line crew from San Miguel Power arrived and pulled cable through the conduit we recently buried. By 3:00 the power is on! No more cords strung across the yard or blown breakers. Joe brings his big compressor over and changes the oil. It’s much quieter than the others and will run more than one gun.

The remainder of the afternoon I begin to fit the first logs along the north side of the aspen cabin. The bottom log was missing and since we won’t be using the top log from another wall, I use it in place of the missing log. With a circular saw and power plane it's fairly easy to cut down the logs and shape them to fit. I’m sure it wasn’t this easy when some pioneer cut these over 100 years ago. Cutting the corners to make a good fit takes some time as each cut is beveled to form the dovetail corners. With any luck we should have half of the log wall up tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

August 28th - A Day Without Power

It was cold last night and already our first frost…too darn early!

Sunny today as we prepare to begin to set the first cabin. Greenbay has ripped down the first log so it will fit flat against the floor and the beam saw kicks the breaker next door where we are plugged in. It’s happened before, but since Carol, my neighbor, is in Arizona and the folks that have her keys are now gone, we have no way to reset the breaker…bummer.

The state electrical inspector is due to stop tomorrow morning to give his stamp of approval and San Miguel Power will be here to run their cable in the conduit we buried. So maybe by tomorrow afternoon we will have our own power.

Greenbay and I finish the day out running bituthane around the perimeter of the area where the cabin will sit. This is great waterproofing material and unbelievably sticky too; once stuck it's there to stay.

Joe and I earlier today moved the balance of the treated logs up and now we have everything stacked on the floor, covered for weather and ready to go as soon as we get power. I am hoping by the end of the week we will have the cabin up.

My mom’s cousin, Virginia, came by today with friends for a quick visit. It was good to see her but unfortunately she was feeling a little dizzy and they left shortly after lunch.

After everyone left tonite, I headed for the crawl space again with my respirator and rubber gloves to continue working on the drain lines. After 2 ½ hours of work I completed another section of plumbing, including the pipe under the footing that will very soon be hooked up to a new septic tank.

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Monday, August 28, 2006

August 27th - Hiking & Plumbing

We woke to a beautiful day and the entire day was spectacular, perfect weather in every way…and you guessed it, no rain. I believe it is the first day I have been here without some kind of precipitation.

Lynn, Max and I drove up to the old mill, parked the truck, walked around the mill and mines and then started hiking up the old 4WD road above the mill. We walked for over an hour and saw some beautiful country up toward the headwaters of Silver Creek. The trail keeps going up to Hermosa Divide, another 5 miles uphill and connects with the famed Colorado Trail. We never saw another soul the whole time we were gone. Max, our Maltese Terrier, was ecstatic about being off the leash and never stopped running the entire time. Between Max and the beautiful scenery we were entertained nicely. We had such a nice morning and this was really the first time I have done anything different than working…what a nice change.

Today after our walk, I am remembering why I love Colorado so much. We came back down the mountain and I showed Lynn the old Van Winkle Mine shaft and tower just a block and ½ above our place. They have recently replaced some of the huge timbers on the tower and work is in progress to keep the old structure original and part of historical Rico.

We end the morning with a great brunch at the Argentine Grill in the Rico Hotel. My friend Timmy is one of the chefs and along with Aiman(sp?) the head chef, they do a great job. It has to be one of the best restaurants we’ve ever eaten at. Both these guys are 5-star chefs and every meal we’ve eaten there has been superb! Enjoy it when you come to town.

After lunch Lynn and I went back to the cabin. While Lynn stretched out in a lawn chair with a book in the sun, I headed for the crawl space where I spent the next several hours plumbing. I am installing the drain lines using the white PVC pipe. I have my heavy duty rubber gloves on and my good respirator as the glue and primer for the pipe and fittings is extremely toxic. Luckily I can’t smell it and by the end of the day I have completed about ½ of the plumbing drain lines in the basement.

I enjoy plumbing (except for the glue) and I especially like figuring out how and where the drains and vents will go. You have to have a clear vision of how the house goes together to make decisions on where to drill and install pipe. It’s especially challenging with some solid log walls and exposed ceilings on the first floor where drains can’t be hidden in ceilings and walls like most homes. I feel like I have a good handle on the situation especially as many hours as I have spent pouring over the details on my set of house plans.

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August 26th - Major Storm Moves In

We had a helluva thunderstorm that started at 1:30 AM this morning and lasted for 4 hours. Sun shining this morning, but more rain coming and throughout the day it alternates sunshine and then pours rain at least 6 times.

Greenbay came by to see about working and we decided to wait as the rain didn’t look like it would stay away for long. He has been kind enough to offer to let me use any of his tools any time I might need them. Without a doubt, he has one of the best and most complete sets of tools I have ever seen and it matches his expertise.

Greenbay lives up the hill on the road up to the old mining mill and he offers to take me up there and show it to me. What a cool place as much of the old equipment is still in place. The buildings are slowly deteriorating and many have fallen into the hands of salvagers who have helped themselves. Two mine shafts with old sets of mine car rails are open on either side of Silver Creek. Itss an interesting area and a nice break, but I have work to do.

I do my best to work around the weather and by afternoon I have completed spraying the Bora-Care on all surfaces of the cabin. I surely hope the stuff works. I have laid out the east wall of the cabin and come as close as I can to figuring the height of the cabin. We will probably delete the lower row of logs on the cabin as it seems to have plenty of height without them to take us up to the 2nd floor. Just as well as the lower course of logs is partially rotten and would need replacing. The logs can’t get wet, otherwise the BoraCare loses its strength, so it’s a major job keeping everything covered with tarps especially when the wind comes up.

This morning during the rain, I worked at the old cabin and I managed to get another oak 8”x8” post cut. This one was a special cut as I had to rip one corner out of the post with the beam saw so it will wrap the outside corner of the concrete wall in the dining area. In between rain storms I also measured up and cut holes in the floor for my rough-in plumbing on the first floor .

Altogether we got at least 4” of rain today. Amazing the sun would come out for 20 minutes and then cloud up and pour again.

I had a nice surprise for Lynn today after going down to retrieve my hat that I left at the hotel last night during our great dinner. It was mid-afternoon and no one in the restaurant and I had a chance to visit with Lynda, the owner. I mentioned how tight our space was at the place we rent. She offered to show me the apartment they have on the 3rd floor. What a gorgeous place and very private. She offered to give it to us for what we are currently paying for rent. What a deal!, except that we can’t have it until Oct. 8, when the Hotel closes for the season.

Lynn was excited too, but wishes it was sooner. We will take it and this means we have only 5 more weeks to stick it out in our little place. Our landlord, Cody, has been great, but our place is just too small for us. (If you think you have a small house try living in a 1 room apt. 12’ x 15’ including kitchen, living area, bedroom and bath! It’s been challenging and we are forced to stay very organized and give each other space when we need it.)

I also inquired about some old photos in the restaurant I saw last night. I mentioned my large collection of original William Henry Jackson photographs and we both decide it would be a good idea to feature some of these photos in the restaurant. I will have to wait until I get back to Iowa to pull some together for framing.

Tonight we lost the power in our area of town for about an hour. It went out when Lynn was still fixing dinner and we ended up lighting our little gas grill on the front porch, so she could finish cooking. Also Lynn was in the middle of reloading Norton AntiVirus on her computer which can take hours. I ran down to the convenience store and bought candles. After getting them lit, the power came back on.

We played a game of Scrabble tonight and I got whipped. Lynn’s score was over 300.

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Saturday, August 26, 2006

August 25th - Bora Care Your Troubles Away......

The weather held today as Greenbay and I went through stacks of logs. We have to figure out which log sections will be replaced and what we intend to use for replacement logs. Since we will be cutting larger openings in the walls for more doors and windows and opening up a section of the south wall for the fireplace, we will have some extra sections of logs to use for replacing rotten lower logs on some walls. Some original log floor joists that came out of the old cabin in Rico are about the right diameter to use for building some replacement. These I had replaced a number of years ago because the ends had rotted away. 10 years later now they will come in handy. I get made fun of a lot for hanging onto things for so many years, so now it’s a delight to be able to use something most people would have tossed in the landfill or cut up for firewood.

We have spent the entire day moving and spraying logs with the Bora-Care. It has to be mixed with water and looks like a thick Karo syrup in one gallon jugs. I have a 1 gallon pressurized sprayer for applying the product. There is no smell, but it has a sticky consistency. My heavy rubber gloves have done their job. By the end of the day my jeans are covered with a dirty sticky coating. Luckily I am wearing my old boots, which have had the soles peel away from the leathers; they’re still kicking and are also now coated. At the end of the day, 3 complete walls have had each log sprayed on the ends and all 4 sides. Our spray rack is an old trailer house framework that works perfect for the job. What a tedious process. I have moved these logs so many times now, my back and shoulders ache.

Greenbay has taken the material handler and we have loaded the north and south wall log bundles and delivered them on to the new floor for staging next week. We will hopefully have this cabin up and be ready for the 2nd floor soon. There are close to 100 separate log pieces and each has to go back into its original place and if rotten, we have to build a new one including dovetailing the corner.

Joe has gone to Telluride to pick up more material and fill a list we have been compiling all week. DD has completed more exterior framing in the dining area.

Today the soil engineer showed up after Fabian dug a deep trench in front of the cabin. He has to view soil conditions down in the hole. He explains that the lots are simply too small in Rico and every single lot in Rico has challenges for installing the system. Only one possible way to do it and that’s dig a huge hole, literally the whole front yard for the septic tank and leach field to be installed. Although Rico has a sewer system in its future, I made the decision to go ahead and have the septic system installed as it’s no telling how long it will take the town of Rico to get thru all the red tape involved, build the sewage plant and then install sewer lines all over town. It was also required to have the septic system engineered to get our building permit. Luckily we were able to get the permit 2 months ago after another engineer had sent a letter stating that a system could be installed.

With a short season for digging, most everyone feels like it may be 5 years before we ever see the lines in front of the house. With the building season fast coming to a close, it will be a good time to do the digging. Nearly every square foot of the lot has been dug up in some form…the huge hole that has to be dug will have dirt piled in the street as we have no room for any more…more work for Fabian.

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Friday, August 25, 2006

August 24th - Hefty Hand-Hewn Timbers

Today some great progress as we have completed the timber framing. The material handler extendable forklift has been a livesaver, both down at my lumber yard and up at the house. Two of the really heavy horizontal beams, we have used a nylon strap and the material handler for lifting and setting in place. The beams are easily over 250 pounds each.

I am particularly happy with the way things have gone today. Lots accomplished with some tough framing to do. Remember none of these beams are really true in size as each one is hand-hewn. Trying to keep posts plumb and beams level is quite challenging while tying framed stud walls into the post and beam structures. Joe says he thinks it looks like Stone Henge.

I am really grateful for the good help I have. Everyone works hard and seems to be enjoying the process. This morning Joe and I moved several piles of lumber to retrieve more oak 8” x 8”s that we needed to complete the timber framing. Because of the cost of these hand-hewn oak timbers, I had brought what I had on hand in Iowa and bought just the amount of remaining pieces I needed to complete the project from my friend Jim in Iowa. When we completed tonite, only a few short remaining pieces remained on the floor.

It’s been looking like rain since about lunch time, but luckily we received only a few light sprinkles and were able to keep on working. Joe and Double D were able to get the south wall framed in between timbers and hopefully by tomorrow all of the first floor framing other than the old aspen cabin will be completed.

The Bora-Care liquid and sprayer arrived by UPS this afternoon, so tomorrow we begin spraying the aspen log cabin with the spray that will take care of our friendly little powder post beetles. Luckily it’s odorless and fairly non-toxic; the main ingredient is borax which most insects aren’t fond of.

Stanley Electric showed up this morning and installed the meter box and 200 amp service and 2 temporary outlets for us to use. The state electrical inspector is due here tomorrow. Once inspected and okayed, San Miguel Power will show up probably Monday to run the cable from the pole down on Silver Street to the meter box, install a new meter and then power…and of course the electrical bills to follow.

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

August 23rd - Adz Ons

Fabian and Susan have taken their large equipment trailer to Telluride to pick up the material handler which gets delivered around lunchtime. Greenbay has provided an old beam saw, which is a very large circular saw capable of making 6” deep cuts. Using various saws the long beams have to be ripped down on one side to provide a flat surface for nailing the 2nd floor flooring to.

The beams are hand-hewn solid oak and flat surfaces of these logs were all done by hand using an adz which is a flat cutting tool with a long handle. You can still see the adz marks on the beams which is what gives them character. These beams came from an old demolished barn in Iowa.

By early afternoon, we have 2 posts up against the old cabin and the gable end of the cabin removed to make room for the horizontal beam. I’ve been cutting and preparing the horizontal beams with the beam saw and my arms ache from holding and running the heavy old saw. Joe and DD have built and erected another short wall at the north end of the stairwell. We have 10 posts to install with 4 longer beams. Once these are up we will be able to build more sections of wall. The idea is that the posts and beams will not only serve as structural support but the old hand hewn beams will also be exposed on the inside and outside.

We made a lot of progress today, but ominous looking clouds to the east are headed our direction at the end of the day and as we are covering up beams with plywood and as we are picking up tools, the skies let loose.

We have a beer at the end of the day and after a huge downpour and hail, there is a break in the weather and everyone heads out. The rain has stopped and I finish by sweeping large amounts of standing water off the floor.

Lynn takes me to dinner at The Enterprise tonite.

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August 22nd - Rain Delay

Joe and I have gone down to my lumber yard and we have uncovered several bundles of lumber underneath the tarps. By using a long pipe we are able to pry and flip two bundles of lumber over the side of the stack without having to unload them by hand. Under the 2 bundles is the bundle of (12) 9’ 8” x 8” posts we need. We cut the bands and then unload them by hand into the back of Joe’s pickup. It will take us two loads as these and the solid oak beams from another stack are unbelievably heavy. We have to move a bundle of banded porch posts off another stack to get at 3 long 8” x10”s we need for beams in conjunction with the posts.

Greenbay and Double D help us unload the beams from the truck and up onto the floor. It’s decided we had better order a motorized material handler, which is a 4WD extendable construction forklift to save all of our backs.

Greenbay and I begin cutting our first post and at noon it begins to rain and it looks like it will set in all day. Greenbay and Double D head for home as the weather is socked in. I head down to the “lumber yard” to grab the two large cast iron old furnace grates I’ve brought with me from Iowa. I’ve had them in storage for at least 10 years. I haul these grates and all the iron beams I’ve had up at the house to Fabian’s shop.

Dylan will help me assemble all the components for the iron landing we have to construct over the south patio. I’ve also picked up a unique old heavy screw jack with a screw that is nearly 2” in diameter. I got this from my friend Jim in Iowa several years ago and have been told it is a an old horse drawn wagon screw jack. For the next 5 hours I tackle disassembling the jack which is partially made from wood and old wrought iron hand-forged bolts. The bolts have been in place for more than 100 years and I’ve had to use a number of different size punches to remove the bolts. In doing so the threaded ends are damaged and I will have to grind the ends of the bolts and re-thread them.

Once I have the wooden components apart I have to mate a long 8” x 9” post onto the bottom of the jack and in doing so, make it look like it was always that way. I have had to hollow out the center end of the beam using a drill and chisels and then cut a center tongue on the end of the post and then carefully cut and mate it to the bottom side of the jack. It takes me most of the day to complete the tedious process. It has to look good as it will become the main support post in the kitchen, supporting a good part of the 2nd floor and roof system.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

August 21st - 1st Wall Up

Fabian and Dylan are continuing to backfill with gravel and are nearing completion. Hopefully we will be able to pour the foundation for the garage later in the week. The fill will have to be compacted and leveled before the footings go in.

Greenbay continues to complete the cutting and nailing of the first floor warm board and finishes late in the afternoon. My friend, Arthur showed up from Bayfield today on his way to Rifle. Lynn and I had lunch with him down at the convenience store (the only place open for food at 2:30 in the afternoon).

I lay out the south mechanical room exterior wall. I' m a bit rusty at this, it's been a while. Double D has been doing the cutting and by 5 p.m. we have our first wall up on the south side of the mechanical room.

Joe has an electrician pulling the electrical permit and since the underground conduit is now installed all the way up to the mechanical room, by next week we will have electrical service in. Yahoo! This will save us from having to drag cords from my neighbor Carol’s house. Today I plugged my chop saw in and tripped the breaker in the house. Must be a short in my saw. Carol is away and with some luck we were able to find someone who could get us in the house and turn the breaker on. Thank God for great neighbors!

After hours tonite I started working on the plumbing and by 8 pm tonight I have finished roughing in the drain and vent lines inside the old cabin.

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August 20th - Petroglyphs & Power Wagons

Before we left Albque this AM, Lynn & I took Max for a walk at Petroglyphs National Monument. If you haven’t been there it's a great place and just off the I-40 freeway on the west side of town. Lots of ancient petroglyphs to see in an old volcanic area covered with black lava rock.

I have two low tires on the trailer and have a difficult time getting them aired up at a couple of different gas stations. Seems like "Free Air" is a thing of the past & the ones that require quarters don't work worth a damn. It takes almost 1/2 hour & a trip to two service stations to fill the tires.

We are taking a much shorter and more direct route back through Cuba and Farmington. Two stops, one in Farmington and the other in Durango at Home Depot. My old friend, Arthur, who lives in the Durango area met us in the parking lot to see the old truck we have on the trailer. I have purchased and added a 4-sale sign on the windshield of the old truck. We are in 4WD country & it may be fairly easy to sell here.

We stop in Dolores for dinner at the Naked Moose and a few groceries in Dolores. We are back in Rico by 9pm. The load on the trailer was extra heavy making the trip slow & bumpy. By the time we arrive back home we are really tired and ready to be out of the truck. It was nice to be away for a weekend but I am looking forward to getting back at it tomorrow.

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August 19th - The Salvage Hunt for Junk......

I’ve gone 10 minutes from the hotel to pick up the Power Wagon. I bought this truck a month ago from photos the owner sent me. Boyd, who owns Toby's Truck City, has the truck running when I arrive - amazing for not having been started in years. It really runs well.

He introduces me to his neighbor, Pete Allen, who is the caretaker for Al Unser (of Indy 500 fame). The street out front (Unser Boulevard) is named after him. Pete shows me a number of old vehicles including one heavy duty 3 ton Dodge. I have only seen this type of truck twice and the truck is priced right. I’m tempted to buy it, but what it costs these days to ship things from New Mexico to Iowa is staggering. I will have to wait to see what else I might put with it to complete a full semi-load.

Unser’s yard is full of old European cars from the 60’s like Vauxhalls, English Fords, Goliaths, Peugots. The really good stuff like Alpha Romeos, MGs, and Triumphs were shipped to England about 15 years ago. Lots of old cars and all going to the crusher in the next few months.

Back at Boyd’s place, I drive the old Dodge Power Wagon out of the lot and up onto my trailer. It’s a beauty; a 1948 model and very complete and original condition, which is unusual these days. Down here in New Mexico, nothing rusts like it does in the Midwest. This truck is also unusual in that it is a civilian model that was issued to the military U.S. Army. Old stenciling on the door shows it was sent to Fort Sam Houston Texas back in the 1950’s.

Back inside the lot, he takes me on the yard tour. This is one of my favorite things about my business… looking for old parts. I find several sets of fenders and grills as well as some extra doors. He has one old govt. Dodge pickup from the early 60's and with a boom truck and torch we manage to remove the cab and pickup box and soon it's loaded on the tail-end of the trailer behind the Power Wagon. We continue to fill the load by piling all the truck sheet metal parts into the bed of the old Power Wagon as well as the old cab. Within the last few minutes I’ve managed to come up with a set of old WWII special combat rims for a WWII Dodge command car we have at home in Iowa. These have been difficult to find in the last few years and these particular rims are in good condition.

Once loaded it takes me an hour or so to tie down and secure everything for the long journey back to Rico. Later we drive across town to a great restaurant we ate at 4 years ago on old Route 66. The place is called the Flying Star and we recommend it when you visit Albuquerque. The food is fabulous & the pastries are even more so.

After dinner it's on to Home Depot for a shopping spree of plumbing parts I will need in Rico. What a fun day (especially for Lynn & Max) after a long day loading the truck.

August 18th - Travel Day

I’ve gone over to the cabin this morning and made a large list of plumbing fittings and pipe I will need for plumbing the drain lines on the lower levels. Also I have been measuring for steel I will need for the cantilevered steel landings on the south side of the patio.

Greenbay is finishing the warm board installation. We have a lumber delivery coming today for framing the first floor walls. My neighbor, Dean is coming to dig the hole for installing the large conduit for electric service to the house. Fabian and Dylan will install the conduit and French drain.

Double D has gone to down to my lumber yard to pick up more of the used pink foam insulation for insulating the foundation walls. Dylan and Fabian are backfilling the huge holes around the foundation.

We’ve left early for a long drive to Albuquerque. I have some more iron to pick up from Belt Salvage in Cortez…I love that place. We make a return to the office supply and then head for Durango. A stop at Log Finisher's Supply is a good education for me on products for log repair and finishing. I have to pick up some wood epoxy for doing repair to some of the old cabin logs and they have just what I need.

We are having to go out of our way with a stop in Pagosa Springs to return concrete forms I had delivered about 6 weeks ago. My concrete contractor said it would cost more for him to use them. These are the type that you form with foam forms and leave the forms in place which are great for good insulation. But, since I already had the extra foam board insulation, I chose to pay a small restocking charge and return the forms. I have enough remaining foam forms from 10 years ago that have been stored in the cabin that we will use up for forming the remaining garage foundation wall that we will frame next week.

After some trouble finding his storage yard, Lynn and I unload the plastic form ties and bundles of foam forms. Now we're off to New Mexico and some beautiful country to see across the continental divide. The crossing is not much more than a rise in the road down in New Mexico, unlike Colorado’s much higher continental divide crossings. Down through Chama and into Santa Fe. After a stop in Santa Fe at Wild Oats Market for dinner, we then have another hour drive to Albuquerque. While sitting outside eating dinner, we spotted the fattest rainbow we've ever seen. And also one of the most gorgeous sunsets we've experienced in some time.

With about 11 1/2 hours on the road today, it's been a very long day.

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August 17th - Flooring Day

It’s a day for flooring and Greenbay, D D and I spend the day laying out and installing the Warm Board. It really is great stuff and a breeze to install once we get going. It’s very much like installing regular subfloor except that care has to be taken in lining up tubing grooves for the in-floor heating and to make sure that our returns line up across the room. Hopefully you can see from the pictures what the stuff looks like. The green color you see in the pictures is the color of the aluminum skin on top each sheet that helps conduct heat from the tubing that will be installed down the road.

Fabian continues with back fill as Susan keeps hauling in more and more gravel. There is such a demand for gravel in these parts these days, we have had to substitute different size rock untils the quarries catch up on production.

DD and I unload the remainder of the logs from the trailer and cover them with plastic to try and keep everything dry.. Joe and I discuss and finalize window details and rough opening sizes. Joe will put the windows out for bid to several different companies. Besides the old leaded glass windows I’ve brought with me, we have 32 new windows going in. Lots of work ahead.

Tonight we were relieved to be out of our little apt and have dinner with our new friends, Joe and Kathy. Chef Joe has a new recipe for pork loin that is quite tasty. 2 bottles of wine down and Lynn and I head for home. Tomorrow we are headed to Albuquerque to pick up a Power Wagon. We have a long trip ahead of us....

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Aug 16th - Work Continues

Greenbay and Joe finish up the framing on the first floor joists. Joe has put together another order for lumber for delivery on Friday. I am really pleased with the way Joe handles and schedules things as well as keeps us all on track, organized and simplified.

Fabian and Dylan are back today with more gravel and this large bucket used for distributing gravel into hard to get to places. What a time saver; they have installed the French drain around the perimeter of the house. A neighbor, Dean, stopped by yesterday and will schedule his tiny backhoe for digging a trench for the new electrical service line and French drain along the south side of the old cabin.

The Warm Board delivery arrives in the afternoon; 3 large heavy pallets that are difficult to get out of the truck. One of the pallets that the sheets are stacked on is missing and unloading isn’t easy, but with Fabian's backhoe and nylon strap, they pull thru for us again.

GreenBay and I have gone to my old lumber yard down off the highway and I have shown him what beams go in what areas of the house. It’s difficult enough for me, but with his extensive experience, he picks up easily on how things will be constructed.

During lunch I have had to make a list for the window manufacturers to bid on. We have to get the windows ordered soon. Joe suggests changing the bay window to a square bay instead of the angled bay. I agree. We think it will look better this way and more fitting with the style of the building and really simplify construction. It will also make the window order much simpler too.

After lunch, Greenbay and I are back down on the highway and we disassemble the dutch oven. Joe has an old metal frame of a 40’ house trailer nearby and Greenbay suggests we disassemble the stacks of the old aspen log structure and lay them out on the frame of the trailer. A great idea and by the end of the day we have both the north and south walls of the old cabin laid out on the trailer and have a much clearer idea of what we need to do.

As I mentioned before, this old cabin, built in the 1880s, has some problems with powder post beetles. The old trailer frame is the perfect place for being able to spray the logs with Bora Seal. Small piles of fine sawdust are evidence of these little critter's activity. The Bora Seal should take care of 'em. Some of the lower logs have sserious rot problems and will have to be replaced. Luckily we have some extra logs that we will have to reshape and cut new dovetails.

Earlier this morning, Doyle, from Dolores stopped by. He specializes in making new replacement lower logs for old cabins. He knows his stuff too. I’ve shown him the old aspen log cabin and he gives me some tips on repair and replacement as well as a good contact for chinking the logs once we get them up. His schedule won’t allow him to help us out without having to wait for several weeks. So we will make the replacement logs ourselves.

This old cabin was disassembled from its original location somewhere up on the Canadian/Minnesota border about 15 years ago. I found it stacked hap-hazardly in a barn in Fairfield, Iowa. Luckily someone had the foresight to mark the log ends with small pieces of aluminum numbered tags. Without these it would be nearly impossible to erect it like it originally was found. After so many years the old cabin will finally find its new home in Rico.

Doyle has given me the name of a log chinking lady named Barbara Walker. I’ve called her tonite and turns out she is currently working in Rico. She will stop by tomorrow to look at the job.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Aug 15th - Big Progress Day

Greg, also known as Greenbay or Swerve, is helping us today and will be for a number of weeks as we strive to get the framing done. Between Joe, Double D, Greg and myself, we get most of the ground floor joists nailed in place. We have had to drill into the concrete walls to attach ledgers onto the walls where we will hang the floor joists off.

Using TJI and engineered microlam beams we have a super strong structure that we will soon be attaching the Warm Board to. Warm Board is a great product and, while expensive per sheet, it ends up that the higher up front costs are offset in the long run as temperature requirements are much lower than conventional radiant heat. Warm board is a 1 1/8” plywood tongue and groove flooring with built in grooves for heating tubing. On top of it all, the entire surface including the grooves are covered with a pressed sheet of aluminum. See more information at

At the end of the day, we’ve made huge progress. Fabian and Dylan have been moving gravel most of the day as the enormous hole behind the concrete retaining wall begins to fill up. They have installed a drain tile around the exterior to drain off any excess water.

I’ve left a message for a man who lives in Dolores that was referred to us. His specialty is building replacement logs for old cabins. Normally when these old structures are restored or moved, many of the lower logs need replacing. I hope to hear from him. We’ve also reserved a sheep’s foot walk-behind compactor for tomorrow that I will go pick up in Telluride. This will save hours of compacting time in doing the backfill we need around the foundation walls.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Aug 14th - Framing Begins

We started early this morning laying out sill plates for the top of the foundation walls. The newly poured wall has proven to be straight, square and level throughout with only slight variations of around ¼”. The concrete crew has done a great job. They don’t show up until late afternoon because of problems with the boom truck they require for loading.

Meanwhile, Joe, Double D and I have had to move many of the forms that were stacked on top of the walls as with the forms stacked where they were, we simply weren’t going to finish our lay out or attach the plates. The entire first floor framing package arrives just after lunch…finally some lumber and some real progress. Within a few hours Joe and I have drilled holes in the sill plates for the foundation anchor bolts and also put a layer of the sill foam seal under each plate. Using the transit, we now shoot elevations on the plates so we’ll have a level surface to begin attaching the rim-joists and TJI’s we’ll use in framing the floor. They are much stronger and straighter than traditional framing lumber.

Before the lumber arrives, we cut the overhanging roof on the old cabin back so that our new framing can be built along side it. The old roof is in bad shape and it requires us to remove some of the old rusty tin and strip away an incredibly old layer of shake shingles. The cabin is looking smaller and smaller these days. Using it for our tool storage building has worked out great.

I will have to order the Bora-Care tonite too, which will help in treating the lumber infested with powder post beetles. I have serious doubts that our dutch oven did away with the little critters. By the time we leave tonight, Chip has loaded all the forms on to his truck and Joe and I have completed setting the sill plates.

Tommorrow a real day of framing and we hope to have the first floor joists in place by tomorrow evening.

Aug 13th - Workin' on Sunday

Today I have finished framing the stairwell landing from the existing cabin up to the new level. I also have finished stripping the forms and find out why our concrete guys haven’t been back. The boom truck for lifting the concrete forms onto the truck has a broken hydraulic hose, so we are hoping we will see them before noon on Monday.

I have also cut a section of floor out, near the east wall of the cabin. This will become the chase for running the plumbing pipes for the new bathroom we intend to install at a later date. We had set a 4” plastic sleeve into the concrete wall which will make it easy to run the pipes through.

I have to make a trip down to my “lumber yard” near the highway and I pick up several pieces of pink foam for insulating the cavity under the floor. I have decided that I will do the plumbing for the house and this small section will be easy now that I have a place to run the plumbing.

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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Aug 12th - More Supplies + Milestone Day

Up early this morning and we have to drive to Cortez for groceries, hardware, a bit of lumber and a visit to Belt Salvage for some used metal for my outer steel landings which will hang over the patio.

Belt Salvage is a pretty neat place for guys to visit; every kind of junky metal thing you can think of and I find the perfect lengths of 4 x 10” I-beams to use for building my stair landings located on the south side of the garage. Within a few weeks we will be installing them before the 2nd floor goes up.

Belt sees my Power Wagon hat and when I tell him my company, Vintage Power Wagons (, supplies Power Wagon parts, he asks for a card and tells me that he sometimes gets people asking for parts. In pulling one of the I-beams from the pile, a boom truck is required and the Belt employee comes driving up with a bizarre looking vehicle that was actually a Power Wagon at one time. All that remains are a portion of the cab and hood, the front ½ of the frame, transmission and gas tank. Its quite a work horse, now 2WD with a Chevrolet engine and winch mounted about midway.

Belt has good deals on all kinds of used steel. I walk out with 18’ of I-beams for less than $60. What a deal, especially with the price of steel these days. You gotta like their business card with a picture of a vulture with the words…”We’re just waiting to do business with you.”

Lynn is off shopping for our weekly groceries and kitchen accessories. After a visit to the lumber yard/hardware store, we head back to Rico. It’s raining hard when we arrive home (can't remember a day without rain in recent history anyway).

I install more shelf brackets and a new outlet in our apt. kitchen - and that completes the organizing work here. I go over to the cabin and install the first piece of lumber on the new addition; a 2x10 and part of the stair landing between the existing cabin and the main level of the house. It’s a milestone for sure!!!

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Aug 11th - It's a Messy Job.......

The remainder of the concrete forms are supposed to be stripped off the walls today, but the crew doesn’t show up as planned.

Joe and I spend the day applying asphalt coating to the foundation walls. It’s a gooey sticky black tar that is rolled on with a roller and brushed into the corners where the foundation wall meets the footings. Really a fun job in the sun, but at least it's not too hot.

By noon I feel like I've been tarred and the only thing missing is the feathers. With many of the forms in the way, we are unable to finish applying the tar to the walls. So Joe and I decide to strip off the outer remaining forms ourselves so we can apply the tar; that way there are only a few sections of the walls that we can’t finish until all the forms are removed.

Hopefully they will show tomorrow and move the forms out. Willie, (real name Willemen Regean) the surveyor comes by today and with Joe holding the survey stick, they plot the actual outside corners of the house. The bank requires this information for plotting the actual final footprint of the house on the lot…tonite my shoulders and wrists ache from rolling tar. I need to bathe in turpentine to get the tar spots off that have soaked thru my jeans…

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Aug 10th - Foundation finally finished

The concrete crew arrives early and is stripping the forms from the walls. Finally it begins to look like the beginnings of a house. The walls seem so tall right now because they are so far down in the hole, once we get the first floor on and the backfill done, it won’t seem so tall.

In the afternoon the concrete truck arrives and the rest of the foundation (that they were short on the previous day) up next to the cabin is poured.

Lynn and I drive to Telluride to meet with Kathy at the bank and I turn in the paperwork for my first bank draw. Telluride is really an unbelievably beautiful place; only a ½ hour drive from Rico…and speaking of unbelievable, check out the real estate prices there sometime. 25’ x 100’ lots in Telluride now over $1,000,000.00!

We spend the eveving hanging out on Joe and Kathy’s front porch and finish with dinner at the Enterprise.

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Friday, August 11, 2006

Aug 9th - Concrete Day

Our foundation crew shows up at 7 am to complete the forms. By 11 am, the first concrete truck has arrived from Cortez. The concrete pumper kicks in and the concrete begins to flow.

A few of the small tapered pins have been left out and now the crew has to make adjustments. The pressure from concrete piled up 13’ high is immense. Lower 3’ intersecting walls are attached at the bottom of the wall where the foundation steps up. Lots of care involved to see that the concrete doesn’t blow out, but some blocking left out has allowed a small blowout, spewing concrete outside the form walls. The workers quickly shovel the concrete back inside the wall and stuff boards into the top of the wall to prevent further blowout. Nobody gets upset, just a small gliche and something they have to deal with all the time.

The 2nd and 3rd trucks empty into the concrete pump hopper and Chip realizes that we are short…about 3 yards short. They will come in the morning to strip forms and pour the balance of the walls near the cabin tomorrow afternoon. Extra steel needed is stuck into the wall as well as anchor bolts.

We are getting close to starting the framing. Joe and I meet to discuss an updated lumber order as well as framing details.

This afternoon, I took my pictures over to Donna's to show her mom, Joan Stanley. She is visiting from Cortez. Joan is a spry 75 years old and yet another Rico character. For 3 hours we pour over my grandad’s old photos. There is one photo of my granddad taken in the 1930s or 40s with someone I don’t recognize, however Joan does. It is Henry Stanley, her grandfather - the photo taken in California.

Joan has been coming every year to Rico since she was 4 years old and spent many a summer riding the old Rio Grande Southern trains and riding horses. Her best memories are of Rico when growing up.

My granddad, Chuck Lee, was a good friend of the Stanleys, and the photo was taken on a visit to California. A photo of the Rico community church shows a picture of her dad and grandmother. Joan tells me a wild story about my grandad Lee’s older brother, Hartley. She tells me, “ I have a story about your Uncle Hartley Lee, which you probably haven’t heard… Did you know he got the top of his head cut off?” “What!?”, I asked. “Hartley was up on the hill working with a saw mill that had one of those huge round saw blades and they were cutting planks, one of the planks jammed in the saw and as the plank came out of the saw it knocked him off balance and he fell into the saw blade, head first. The blade just cut the top of his head off right to the bone. The other men with him grabbed him out of the saw and holding his scalp on top of his head, they rushed him to Doctor Koplowitz’s office and the doc sewed it back on. You could always see the scar on his head around his flattop haircut.” (I have to check this out with my mom and see if she remembers this story)…

What a great visit with Joan. Unfortunately, she lost her beautiful old Victorian House full of Rico memorabilia a few years ago in an accidental fire. She now runs an antique shop in Cortez now…I will look forward to visiting her down there soon.

Aug 8th - Mountains of PaperWork

Today I have to deal with paperwork for the bank that ends up taking me all day. Not that much fun. My construction loan through the bank requires paid receipts and exact amounts on all expenses I have gathered.

Lynn has brought receipts we have from over the last 3 months. Now, categorizing expenses takes up the entire day. I will get my first construction draw this week.

I would rather be on the jobsite than doing paperwork…oh well, part of the deal here.

Aug 7th - Organization is Key!!

More house fix up as Lynn and I continually try and find places to put things.

Joe & I go down to the road and redo the Dutch oven. We’ve had another tank of gas delivered and this time will turn it up full blast. I sure hope this works. We’ve shortened the back of the cover and filled in any air gaps to help get the heat as high as we can. We have had to relight the heater again as there was not enough oxygen for it to burn.

This afternoon I’ve been on-line researching insulated structural panels for use on the roof. Joe and I agree that this could be a great efficient way to insulate the roofs on the entire house. Lots of varying prices and a learning curve about the product. Turns out a non-structural panel appears to be the way to go.

I still have 3 claw-foot tubs in Iowa that need refinishing and doing some research I find two tub refinishers within 100 miles with better prices than Iowa. My neighbor, Mark, will deliver them to the refinisher on his way out for a visit next month. I can hardly wait until the concrete is poured and begin framing and backfilling. I can be pretty impatient, but here in Rico, things take more time.

Joe has ordered the lumber. We hope to have it dried in by early October. We have a lot to do…

Aug 6th - Raining Cats & Dogs in Cortez

The kids have taken off early this morning. Lynn and I meet Joe & Kathy for brunch at the Rico Hotel. Timmy, a close friend of theirs, is the chef. Although expensive for dinner, we have heard that the hotel has the best food around and Timmy’s brunch proves out. Our next door neighbor Annie is our waitress.

Today will be my 4th trip to Cortez this week -- 48 miles from Rico to Cortez. Arriving in Cortez it starts to rain and I mean rain. They get 2 or 3 inches in an hour, very unusual for this dryland town. It's obvious that the dry land can't handle this much rain & the streets are overflowing with water and some of the downtown areas have water over the side walks and coming in front doors…the dry arroyos are overflowing.

We get our hardware needs taken care and do our weekly shopping for groceries. We’ve added a small fridge to our tiny apt which helps us store more food. With only a convenience store in town and the high grocery prices in Telluride, Cortez is our closest alternative for food supply. We really are trying to get our “shoe box" (Lynn's appropriate nickname for the apartment) as well organized as we can and with the addition of Lynn’s stuff, our space is even tighter. Every square inch counts!

Coming from a 2,000 sq ft house to an efficiency apartment has its challenges, but we are managing. Joe has given me some used cabinets and shelving which have helped with our space challenge. I’ve added some new outlets to the room and a swivel TV shelf for mounting the TV on the wall. That 27" sucker is heavy and I nearly dropped it getting it onto the pedestal.

Aug 5th - Telluride & Other Sights

Saturday and we are off again to spend the day doing some site-seeing. We visit the last remaining Rio Grande Southern Railroad trestle at Trout Lake. The old railroad water tower is still standing and it’s nice to see that the structure has been stabilized and rotting timbers replaced. It is incredibly beautiful in this valley. Ali loves taking pictures and we make frequent stops for photo opps.

We take the winding road up to the mining ghost town of Alta and above we stop at Alta Lakes. The road is narrow & rutted and there is some concern that it might prove too much for the rented mini-van but Roger is a good driver and we do finally arrive.

The Gold King Mine here was the first place in the world to receive alternating current from the power plant at Ames, several thousand feet below where we are standing. I have one of the original glass bushings from the Ames Power Plant that I bought in Ouray when I was in the 8th grade. I had quite a collection when I lived in Denver of over 3,000 different glass insulators. This particular one I still own and it’s been on loan with some others to the museum in Telluride for at least 10 years. Hopefully when the Rico Historical Society gets the old firehouse building restored, I can transfer some of those over to Rico.

We make our way to Telluride which has some of the most spectacular scenery around. After a meal at a local cafĂ©, we ride the dog-friendly Gondola up the mountainside to Mountain Village. Not much going on here during this season, but Chloe and Ali take a climb on the village rock climbing practice rock. We take the tram back up the mountain and get off at the mid-point. While Max, Ali and I hang out overlooking the Telluride Valley, Chloe and Lynn, hike uphill to the top of a nearby mountain. They have to make several stops on the steep uphill trek but tell us the view was worth the effort. It’s not easy for us flatlanders in this altitude.

We’ve had another great day and dinner at the Enterprise tops it off. They will leave in the morning….

Aug 4th - Vacation Day

I am up at the cabin early this morning, bending conduit and attaching the electrical boxes I purchased this week. I’ve given instructions to Pepe where they are to be placed in the outer retaining walls. These boxes will be a place to mount my outdoor patio lights a couple of feet off the patio floor.

Today is vacation day for the kids and Roger (as well as Lynn & me) and we head out for Cortez, do a few quick errands and then head for Mesa Verde National Park. This month is the 100th anniversary of the park. Max, our dog, is with us and is not allowed down near the Anasazi ruins, so I sit with him at the trail head while the others go down. Max doesn't seem to mind sitting this one out & I've seen the ruins before so let the others go enjoy the sites. A park volunteer tells me that some squirrels have been found in the park with Bubonic Plague and that dogs are not allowed off on the path, for fear that the disease might spread.

Everyone has enjoyed the walk to the Spruce Tree House cliff dwellings. Max and I can see them from our vantage point up on the hill. The girls each buy a necklace for themselves at the local gift shop and also a pair of silver earrings for their mom…

It has rained on and off today and we take the back road from Mancos into Dolores. We’re headed up onto Granath Mesa to my cousin, Kathy’s house. The old farm house hasn’t changed much and this place is truly one of my favorites. My dad was born in this house and this is where my grandparents homesteaded. My Uncle Paul who passed away recently spent his whole life living in this house.

Kathy is building a new barn for the Alpacas that she raises. Alison, who is afraid of dogs, braves going into the barn where she keeps the Alpacas and her two special dogs, Milo and Maggie. These dogs are a certain type of shepherd ( sorry I don’t remember the type) and very large. Milo weighs in at about 135 pounds and stands at about my mid-thigh. Maggie is a little smaller at about 90 pounds…these dogs live in the barn and protect the Alpacas at night from marauding bears and mountain lions which freely roam this country…Kathy says she never has to worry about her animals with these dogs around.

Kathy, now retired from teaching school, has become an expert on Alpacas. She also now works as the children’s librarian in Dolores. Inside the house, she allows Alison to sit at her weaving machine and patiently shows Ali how she weaves the Alpaca wool. Ali loves it and Kathy invites her and Chloe to come back and spend more time next summer with her. She is great with kids.

Dinner at the Naked Moose in Dolores, another great place to eat. We’ve all had a great day hiking and seeing the sights. We've completely worn out Max too. I am bone tired tonite and we all turn in early. Must be all that fresh mountain air.