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Archive for April, 2011

Star Trails over the Cabin

The weather at the cabin over spring break was awesome…who needs to go to Mexico, or Florida when sunshine and warmth can be had nearby?  Tori said the weather back in Ned for the week was still “winter” and Mr. W.  did come by for an extended and intense visit.  While we were at the ranch the moon was rising quite late so it was a  good time to play with some more time-lapse and time-exposure photography.

After our evening meal and a bit of hanging out / or a Vid on the portable DVD,  the girls were pretty toasted …and went up to bed…I stayed up a couple of hours later on a few of the nights and played with  the D90 some.

This time-lapse was shot right off the deck…its only 7 seconds of video…but gives a sense of the beauty of the ranch’s starry nights.

The tear off of the tar paper yielded about 6 trash bags worth or debris.  Last year we would burn a few of the smaller pieces as “fire-starter”.  Being big and bulky this trash would have cost $12-16 worth back in Ned at the transfer station, since the pricing there is based on bags, not weight.  To save some money and not haven an overflowing truck on the way home we swung by the Taos Landfill site to unload… we got weighed…. then dropped some trash…and got weighed again.  Along with the tar paper the weeks regular trash and the old steps were also tossed, total cost $1.75.  Sweet.

We road tripped up through Ft. Garland in the hope to visit the Hermit…but just missed him. ….Not to worry….we now know the way there, so it will be an easier find next time.  Since I have been back home  these last couple of weeks I also noticed that Big Bear is posting again, You can follow both of these guys by clicking on their links at my blog roll to the right. “The Hermitage” for the Hermit and “Bear Ridge Project” for Big Bear.

We grabbed a bite at the local Pizza joint All Gone…and then headed to the dunes for another promised “special treat”.

“Gee dad, you’re so awesome to take us on week-long visit to the cabin, the hot springs and the dunes…and treat us to some great dinning out,  teach us how to shoot a rifle and go on great hikes and stuff…your the best dad ever”

While the girls never actually said this in as many words…I did “feel it” with their laughs, and hugs, and as always any time spent with them is pure fun. We had an awesome time at the dunes a few years ago, and this time is was just as fun.

Mother natures "Sand Box"

It was a bit after lunch, about 2 or 3 when we got there.  The weather was still warm but the afternoon breeze was starting to pick up.  We hiked in a ways and did some dune jumping and rolling…well…at least they did.  Rolling in the sand with the D90 is not high on my list, but I did get in some jumps.

Two steps up...one step back...this is like work.

With some of the descents…we heard the “singing sands”

Above the singing sand

When hiking west the girls asked how far in we were, I said ” Cairo is just around the next dune”….their geography is still a bit weak…so they kind of missed the humor.

The girls found snow buried here.

Evening Light

As the evening chill descends, we made our way back to the truck…the girls were pretty spent…as was I, but they were not looking at another 5 hour drive to get home…maybe a few hours till dark and then nap time.  We rolled into the drive  a bit after 11pm. A long day after a great week, unloading the truck can wait til tomorrow.

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Well its been another busy week.  I finished up a floor refinishing project for a client and posted some of the pics to my flickr account.  They can be viewed at the lower right margin.

Painting done!

Back to the cabin…With the wood shed painted…next on the list was to re-organize the shed a bit.  Our composting sawdust toilet has been used in the shed for the last few visits.  Part of the reason for this in not due to smell but the “privacy”, when Tori and I are there by ourselves we don’t mind each others use, but when 2 young girls are involved it’s a different story.  The closet type space inside, where we used it in the frigid winter, used to have a blanket around it, but now that part has been partially sided and that space being used for some out-of-the-way storage.  The Sawduster saw a move to the shed back when we were there last summer.  The toilet in the wood shed was sitting in front of some fire wood and was very close to the door…and for use… the door pretty much-needed to be open…which is not a problem since the view is five-star and the next nearest neighbor in that direction is at least 3-4 miles away.  The step up…was the problem even for me with my 6′ height, the girls really had an issue and I rigged a bit of step for them.  The better solution  was to clear out some lumber scraps and do a bit of firewood re-stacking.  This allowed the toilet to set a couple of feet further back into the shed and made its use a whole lot easier…and if the wind was blowing and you wanted to keep your tushie a little warmer…you could pull the door shut.

I had promised the girls a trip to the hot springs, down by the river for a bit more work around the place…this deal also involved more dining out in Taos.  The plan for the morning was swapping out the abused tar paper and upgrade with Tyvek.  With the girls help pulling nails and such we knocked in out in no time.  Sierra and I then rebuilt the steps to the deck…I still need to get one more piece of material for the bottom step, but it is a big improvement over the old stack of scraps.

West wall Tyvek up...new window flashing too

New stairs

Working in a remote area…with the nearest hardware store 35 miles away…and about an hours drive. I have come to realize Why and how certain things get built the way they do.  Your 80 or 90% complete and realize your missing something or do not have enough material…what do you do?  Stop and leave it not finished, or make some “design” or materials substitutions.  I noticed this last year when putting up some of the “soffit” on the shed…I had run out of 1 x and ending up ripping some ply scraps….to close it up.  The deck and our stairs were built from some left over materials from a clients project back in Colorado…so these were “free”.  Eventually these will be upgraded but for now they get the job done.

The hike down to the hot springs was nice, the weather was into the upper 60 or maybe even into the low 70’s…the water at in the hot springs was about 96…warm enough to feel great but not too hot either. We hit the geocache nearby that was MIA last time I was down there.  Dinner in Taos was Italian…spaghetti for gilrs…pizza for me.

Soaking at Manby

We finished up the day with some relaxing at the cabin….With all of the siding up…all of the Tyvek, up…rewiring and insulation completed…It was finally starting to feel like a Vacation…To bad we had to leave the next day.   The last trip report will  relate to our adventures on the drive back home.

South Tyvek up...ready to relax

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One of the mornings at the cabin we tried some simple baking.  The nights were chilly and just after sundown I would stoke up the wood stove.  Unlike our winter stays I did not need to continue to stoke it all night long, the night time temps were in the upper 20’s so by morning a chill had settled back into the cabin.  With the morning stoke I could do some simple cooking, and heat the water for coffee, with out having to fire up the gas stove.  By the time I had finished up my second cup of Joe, French press with chemicals (Chemicals are our house name for “French Vanilla creamer”) the cabin was toasty.  With out a fire the cabin would still get warm due to the  the sun being up and warming the interior via our passive solar design.

Baking muffins

Our baking experiment consisted of chocolate chi muffins baked in the dutchy.  I used the digital infrared Temp gun to ball park the start conditions, we were a little cooler than the “package” recommendations, but the results were still plenty edible.

Cooking the Bacon

Tuesday morning I got started with finishing up the last of the electrical work, I got the 120 V receps installed, the last  12 Volt  LED installed and I swapped out the 1000 watt inverter with the 2500 watt inverter.  The last of the electrical allowed me to finish up the insulation and start the south walls ‘s   T & G.  With the new inverter installed I got to use the chop saw run via Solar Power…a first at Moontree Ranch.

I got to the top of the picture window and dining window before running out of wood.  With the chop saw in action I knocked out the interior trim on the west window.  This was done in cedar, and looks good with the blue stain.

Cedar Trim on West window

The highlight of the day for the girls was the target shooting.  Last fall when my mom and dad came out for a visit, my dad gave me a .22 rifle with a 4x scope.  Tasha had enjoyed the archery in hers school’s PE class and this Rifle work was the next step.  We started out with paper plates at about 100 yards, but the girls were having a little trouble keeping  on the target.  Later we switched to about 50-60 yards , and used some ready made pistol targets.  After I sighted in the scope for that range they were getting pretty good results.  It was a hoot the see them having so much fun. It will take some time to work up to larger calibers and with the pistols but I think they had a great start.

Sierra with the rifle

We also got in a bit of  hike on Wednesday, a loop over to the main road in…a bit along the old Chili Line (old time RR grade) over some rock outcroppings on Gil’s land to the west of us and then back into our land via the SW corner.

Sierra on the high point of the hike.

The trees seen to the right of Sierra in the mid-horizon are on our land as we head up from the SW corner.

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With the need to procure ketchup, and insulation, a trip into Taos was planned for Monday morning.  One of my observations at the cabin was that the west exterior window frame and sill was beginning to show some signs of weathering, it had gone through 2 winters with just a coat of primer and was starting to need a boost.  Additionally, the tar paper has become quite ragged in its two winters of exposure, and I had brought down some Tyvek over Thanksgiving but ran out of time to get it up then.

Two winters of wear and tear...Stay tuned for Tyvek.

I was hoping to get some siding up in the first year or so…but the complications and expenses of the Ex’s DUI and My custody battle costs last year took a hit in the cabin build schedule and expense budget.

Late last summer I picked up a gallon of mis-tinted paint at my local hardware store, one of the clerks called it pea soup, but to me it looked a bit like a cross between sagebrush and the juniper at the ranch.  With a price of only $5 the color looked fine to me…Its not too often you find such a good deal on a $25-$28 dollar can of exterior paint.  Even if the color was way wacky, $5 beats even simple primer for value.

In addition to the insulation I picked up in Taos, I got a small can of blue paint (Tori and I had talked about a Turquoise type color for the cabins trim) Tasha picked out one that looked real close…This quart was about $14 and will be used on all of the cabin trim when the time comes. Today it started its role in protecting the outside of the west window.

West Window painting

Before I got the ladder set up and started on the window I set up the girls with a brush and the $5 shed paint…I knew that I would have to finish that job too but at least the girls got the  idea that they were helping…and fulfilling part of the deal I made that I would pay them for helping this week while at the cabin.

Tasha hard at work

I had barely finished the small bit on the window before I had to take over on the shed.  The gallon held out enough to get the front and both sides completed.  The back will need to wait for now…perhaps with another $5 mis tint special.  The final color of the shed will be the same as the cabin.  After it gets sided..but for now the paint will help protect the bare wood.

One step closer to weather protection

The girls finished up the afternoon with a photo shoot of their Blythe dolls, hanging out in the vicinity of the cabin and taking  some other pics.   It was Sierra who got the pic of me working on the window.

Maybelle shot by Sierra or Tasha

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For those that have been following along closely you might recall a gap in my posting and my mentioning of a trip to the cabin for spring break.  I returned late last Friday after a week of mixed work and recreation with the girls down at the ranch.  My main goal was to get more of the tongue and groove interior siding up at the cabin.  When Tori and I were down there for Thanksgiving I got a big chunk of it installed on the west wall, and  a big slug of tile work done.  This trip started with about 400 lineal feet of sanded and oiled boards loaded in the truck, 10 gallons of water, grout for tile, a few sticks of window trim and 50 feet of roof drip edge flashing, throw in two eager children, one big fuzzy white dog, a 12″ compound miter saw,  and a weeks groceries…and there was not much room left.

We left early Saturday morning and made the 6 hour haul in good time with good weather, we unloaded relaxed and popped a cold one…at least I had a cold one the girls had something a little more tame.

More T & G for inside

The quick unload pile

A bit after dark I noticed some slight precipitation, a little mix of some rain and sleet.  I had left the chop saw on the deck and decided to bring it in.  We routinely leave the cooler outside to prevent the ice from melting prematurely.  Sunday morning we woke to about 3″ of snow, which was a complete surprise considering the T-shirt weather we had when we unloaded the truck.

3" of Fresh White at the Ranch.

A small stoking of the wood stove and the inside of the cabin was toasty warm in no time.  After coffee and some snacking I dove right in with the siding for the East wall, since there were no complex scarf joints required I did all of the cutting with the 18 V Dewalt cordless circular saw.  The batteries were swapped out and charged via the solar system and the 1000 watt inverter.  Later in the week I would swap out the 1000 watt with the 2500 watt unit I had brought down over Thanksgiving.  With the idea that it would power the chop saw for a few seconds of cutting every few minutes or so…way more convenient than firing up the generator.  I had tried to run the saw before with the 1000 watt inverter but it fell just a bit short on power.

T &G on the east wall

Next up was more siding on both sides of the “closet” wall. This wall went pretty fast due to the shorter sections, and also not having to slip them in behind the studs of the closet wall as I had to do for the east wall. A bit after lunch and the walls were looking sweet.

Not looking at open studs is indeed an improvement

The wood stock was getting low, and it was apparent that more insulation would be needed to start on the south wall, we also noticed that we forgot mustard and ketchup for the hot dogs…a combined run into Taos was planned for Monday morning.

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