Tuesday, July 3 – Wednesday, July 4

Tuesday, July 3

I resisted all of Chitters’ efforts this morning and slept in until 7:45.  Temperature was 47F with a bit of a breeze and quite an impressive fog bank speeding up the valley.  Part of it slunk over the hill at the east end of the lake at one point. 

Chilly mornings are perfect for a big fuzzy sweatshirt and a fire

In preparation for Dad’s arrival today, I spent some time on chores: doing dishes, sweeping, rounding up trash and laundry to ferry out in the boat when I went to get him.  Chitters wasn’t really helping by bringing me a bird for lunch, but he meant well I’m sure…

What he really wants is for me to leave the door open…24 hours a day

Dad ended up not getting in until early evening, having stopped in Anchorage to have a late lunch with my brother.  My “doorbell” went off at about 5:30pm (I leave a walkie talkie on top of one of my car tires in the parking lot and keep the other one close by and on during the day.  Visitors know to hit the “call” button which sends a loud telephone-like ring to the receiving unit, letting me know I have company) so I dropped everything and took the boat across to get him.  

Once we got back to the Cabin, we discussed plans for the dock, and then walked around the property.  We talked about building sites for the new cabin and then discussed what trees could be cut down and used for dock supports or just removed for safety.  (He brought his chainsaw.)  He and I agree that taking out a bunch of the spruce would be a good, fire-wise, thing to do. 

Mom has consistently fought to keep as many of the trees as possible, but some of them have gotten so tall and are so close to the cabin that they present a real danger, not only from fire but from wind storms.  Only a couple of hundred feet from the back of the Cabin, Dad and I found a tangle of five large beetle-killed trees that have all fallen since last summer.  They often take each other down in a domino effect.  (In the last decade or so Southcentral Alaska has experienced serious infestations of spruce bark beetles.)  It’s purely luck that a tree hasn’t fallen on the Cabin yet.

It was too late to do any loud work with chainsaw, so we went back to the Cabin and had some dinner.  Dad spent an hour or so writing while I read my Kindle before we climbed into our respective beds.

By the way, I was a little worried about how Chitters would react to having company walking around outside.  He freaks out and hides for hours any time a stray hiker goes by on the trail.  But I shouldn’t have worried…he loves my Dad.  The minute Dad’s lap was available, Chitters was on it!

 Wednesday, July 4

44F at 8am when we got up.  Chitters was ecstatic to have two victims this morning!  We breakfasted on oatmeal, then headed down to the lake with our various tools. 

A tentative plan to relocate the dock a few feet to the east of the old one had to be scrapped due to a huge spruce root system that has been hollowed out by the water, making the whole shore unstable in that spot.  So Dad took some water depth measurements and then took a few minutes to excavate a spot for the rebar anchors and the log that will support the shore end of the dock. 

A 5-foot length of 3/4″ rebar went into the boggy soil with just a few strokes of the sledgehammer

Meanwhile I got acquainted with my new 18V drill driver and began assembling the first 10-foot frame (unsupervised…)  Up the hill, Dad’s chainsaw was soon buzzing as trees were carefully felled and cut for posts.

sighhhhh…photographic evidence of my expert carpentry!

It took a certain amount of grown-up language (from me…never from my Dad!) but I did manage to finish the first frame in time for us to drag it and push it out onto the first of his two bridge-style supports.  (According to his math the frame alone weighs over 150lbs.) 

a bit of a zig-zag, and missing the joist hangers, but I’m still kinda proud of it!

After he got it into the water and worked to get it level and stable against the shore anchor, I realized I hadn’t used my joist hangers.  My first carpentry project gets an “F!” (But keep in mind it’s truly my first ever carpentry.)  I had toe-nailed the joists – with much grumbling at the difficulty on boggy, uneven ground – when I had hangers which would have made the job SO much easier, not to mention more stable.  What would Mike Holmes say?  Jeez!  This is what I get for taking Choir instead of Wood Shop in high school…

We had to quit for the day since Dad couldn’t stay another night.  We ate a quick early dinner while a brief rainstorm – what mom refers to as a “gullywasher” pounded the Cabin.   As soon as it passed over, I helped him load the boat with his gear and launched him to row across, while I hiked out.  It was nearly 7pm by the time we got his Subaru loaded and he headed back to Kenai.  He hopes to get home sometime around midnight.  As for me, I rowed back to my new – unfinished – dock, went up to the Cabin to let Chitters out (he has to be locked in when I go out to the parking lot for fear he’ll try to follow me) and relaxed for a bit before bedtime. 

 Again I am enormously thankful for the help I keep getting for this project.  Without Dad’s brawn and his chainsaw I would still be scratching my head, trying to figure out my next move. 

I’m really kicking myself about those joist hangers…

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