Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wednesday, May 25

Using a forklift to back the 5er on the barge in Juneau.

A few days ago I had six paragraphs written for the blog. When I went to the wi-fi site to make the post my PC crashed. Despite the auto save feature I can’t find anything I had written. Instead of doing a reconstruction I’m saying forget it, and starting mostly new thoughts.

As you can see from the picture the rig is in Gustavus as of the 18th. We have been living in it almost a week. We are pleased to be on the property and have our own space again.
Most of the cabin is rough wired. I say most because I ran out of wire. I need to buy about 100 more feet of 14-2 to complete the lighting circuits. I ran basic a black pipe manifold for propane for drier and stove under the floor a few mornings ago. Work goes slow under the foundation where it is damp and dark. I was happy to get out of the hole, but need to go back soon to run water and waste lines.

Our original bathroom plan for downstairs looked ok on paper but proved dysfunctional after we set in the shower pan and toilet. The shower I bought is too big, making other features congested. So we are moving the slightly smaller upstairs shower pan downstairs, and will have to get a new shower pan for the small upstairs bathroom.... perhaps next year.

No major animal sightings yet, nor have I encountered anyone who has seen any moose or bears. Only one set of bear tracks seen on the property, and those over a week old. We have to go down to the dock if we want to see eagles. We have had an abundance of cold and rain. Spring is said to be three weeks late this year. Trees are only now budding out. Perhaps with warmer weather the moose and bears will show up. Update: Fresh moose tracks in the driveway yesterday. They were imprinted over the truck tracks so were made between noon and three PM. Each track is approximately a yard apart, a large adult moose.

We awoke to rain again last night. That isn’t unusual in southeast AK. After all we live in a temperate rain forest. It’s what makes the place so lush. About 11 AM today the sky cleared and the sun came out big time. The temps warmed to just under 70 degrees. This is the Gustavus we both love. Sun shining through the spruce onto mossy glades, or reflecting off the river.

I am running out of things to do on the cabin unless I ferry to Juneau for more supplies (which I intend to do June 6). Therefore I am reaching ahead to things that need eventual doing. Today I prematurely began installing insulation in bedroom and bath walls. It’s a job I dislike. Several hours after getting itchy I decided to shower and do something else. With the weather fabulous we went next door and planted our veggie seeds (which we brought from Calif.) in the neighbors garden patch. Believe it or not most world record vegetables are grown in AK. With approximately 18 hours of sun for the next two months things grow like crazy. You can just about sit and watch them grow. (Seriously.) A Mennonite neighbor told me one year he planted a big patch of potatoes. In the fall he harvested 2500 pounds of spuds.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Switzerland? -- May 15

I am told Switzerland is beautiful valleys between mountain peaks. That came to mind as we were driving around. Nearly every road has a pristine snow capped mountain directly in its path. I was thinking, now nice. They laid out the roads to each view a mountain. Then from a promontory I realized the whole flat area that is Gustavus is surrounded by snow capped mountains. One finds it hard to lay out a road to not view a mountain.

Weather has been spectacular the last three days. Temps 55-60. Spring is in the air. At 11PM enough light exists to see everything. And about 4AM the darkness is forced out by morning twilight. This is the Gustavus I remember

I am suppose to take the ferry to Juneau to move out rig to have it transported on Wednesday. We live in hope.

Life is good here. I have put in full days on the cabin since Tuesday, with the exception of Sunday. Nearly all the rough wiring is in. Today we painted the floor of four of the downstairs rooms. I plan to buy a few materials I need in Juneau when I am there, like a little more wire, a few necessary fittings for propane plumbing, and a lot of groceries.

I saw my first track today by the river. It was about five inches across and was made by a bear, probably a black bear. I also saw river otters catching breakfast the other day. I don't especially like them because they can decimate the fish population. Still no moose sightings. Geese and ducks migrate past almost every day.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wednesday May 11

Second full day of work today. Yesterday rained a lot so I did wiring inside. Today started foggy, but cleared about 11 to a fabulous day. I dug 55 feet of trench for sewer line. I told Paulette I'm not just tired tonight, I'm downright weary.

When we arrived last year the flowers were starting to bloom. This year winter has barely loosened its grip. We see a little snow on the ground in a few places. Today was the first springlike day they have had here. Trees are barely budding and plants sprouting. We haven't seen a bear or moose at all since we arrived in Gustavus three days ago. Not even a track on the property. Very different from last year in that respect. Last year we saw moose almost daily for a few weeks. Moose are due to calve soon so perhaps they will show up once they have babies.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Year 1 versus Year 2

Last year was so exciting. We were pioneering, and difficulties, though expected, seldom materialized. All went smoothly except the kidney stone and finishing the roof. One had the distinct feeling the Lord was in the details. This year seems quite the opposite. We planned to take the 5er over on the ferry and learned the new dock is called a $5,000,000 mistake. It can't handle any trailer over 20 feet long. Though we have given due diligence to details months in advance almost from arriving in Juneau we have been beset by the problem of getting the rig barged over (see previous entry). Our work around is to go over tomorrow morning with only the truck, stay with friends, take all the tools and supplies we can hold, and I'll have to come back with the truck on the 16th to move the 5er and hopefully get it transported over on the 18th. We have no way of knowing whether that will truly happen, and must live in trust. My biggest fear is that we would get the rig over, and in the fall get a refusal from the barge to take it back, even though we have that agreement and a deposit in place to make it happen. I guess I'm once burned, twice shy. This has taken a lot of joy out of the project for me. We are going to plod on and see what happens. I have thought that if push comes to shove I can perhaps get the bedroom and bathroom rough operational in about four weeks. That way we can live in the crude cabin. Then push to get the other two small rooms servicable so we can accommodate guests and grandkids. I had hoped to have a more relaxed year, but we can take that route as a plan B if we need to. I prefer not to go that route because most of the hardship would be on Paulette. We pray and trust His leading and protection.

Friday, May 6, 2011

May 6,

Today has been hard. This morning the fellow who is going to transport the rig called me back. He says he can’t do us for another ten days. (I made a reservation for May 9 or sooner way back in February). I understand his need to flex a bit to maximize load and profitability. But it looks to me like he landed some more profitable jobs so is putting us off. He went so far as to tell me I can find another carrier if I want, and said if I want to reserve a date of the 18th I should give him a deposit. Paulette and I are trying a work around, but won’t be able to get the rig over until the 18th, assuming he sticks to his word given when I gave him the deposit.

Integrity comes to mind. Integrity is based on the word integer, meaning one. The idea is to be the same in dealings all the time no matter what the up or down or situation of life. Someone with integrity lives by one standard, not several.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The grandkids with matching tee shirts for some place called Papa Mel's Riverpointe in Gustavus, Alaska

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wednesday May 4

We have been rained on in Juneau ever since we arrived. Such is the rain forest. The weather is chilly too, but we had about the same last year. Nights are in the high 30's. We are waiting to hear back from the barge as to when he can take the rig over. Looks like we have a bit of down time to shop in Juneau. We will probably be here another four to five days. I purchased a pressure tank for the well yesterday, and some other construction incidentals.

Let me step back to our Canadian travels. My biggest concern was the trailer brakes. After the failure coming down the Grape Vine grade in California the last thing I wanted was trailer brake failure coming down one of the 10% grades on the Alaskan Highway. I was optimistic I had found the problem, but prudence demanded watchfulness while traversing Washington state. The brake controller never showed anything but good connection on the digital readout. The farther we drove the better I felt about the problem being solved. All across Canada and down the steep grade from White Pass into Skagway the brakes never faltered.

One of the wires coming out of the top of the magnet was installed so tight around a bracket it wore through the insulation causing a short and trailer brake failure.

A view at the top of White Pass before heading down into Skagway. The route is very curvy and descends 3200 feet in only a few miles. Pulling 23,100 pounds I didn't let our speed go over 20 mph.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Monday, May 2

This is a quick post to let those of you who wonder what became of us know we are alive and well. Campgrounds across Canada were not open yet, and thus no internet access to post.

Last Wednesday we looked at a British Columbia Road site located by Sheepish and realized upper western Canada had three days of good weather forecast ahead, with decent road conditions. So Thursday morning we hit the road, drove north across Washington State, entered Canada without any customs problems, and proceeded another 200 miles north before stopping for the first night. That was the only open campground we found for the 1500 mile trek across upper Canada. Everything north was unopened because the ground was still frozen and thus no water to the campsites. They seemed to not have emerged from winter yet. We traveled with only a few gallons of water to reduce weight, but managed to do fine pulling into turnouts to spend the night. There was almost no traffic on the AlCan Hwy, and a LOT more snow bordering the road than last year. Despite the good weather forecast we got snowed on twice, sleeted on once, and hailed on once. Both snows the buildup on the road worried me, but about the time I figured we should pull over the roads cleared well enough to continue. It was a comfort having chains along for both the truck and trailer, even though I didn't use them. The rig shows the effects of driving through snow and slush. The truck and trailer were both filthy with road grime. The second morning temps were in the 22-23 degree range when we hit the road. After 3.5 long days we pulled over the top of famous White Pass and dropped into Skagway, Alaska on Sunday morning. The pass is justly named. From mountaintop to horizon white snow is everywhere. The first two campgrounds in Skagway were also closed due to frozen ground. The third, down near the ocean, apparently had a slightly more marine influence and thus had running water, though the office was closed. We backed into a space for the night. About four o'clock a truck pulled up to the office and noticed my note on the door. He turned out to be the manager. We were the only folks in the whole campground, though he did have one other RV'er from the Yukon a few days earlier and another showed up the next day. We managed to move our ferry reservation up, which was originally for May 6, to Monday May 2. We boarded the ferry about 5:30 PM, and after several delays off-loaded into Juneau-Auke Bay about 3:45 in the morning. After a mostly sleepless night we were both heavy-eyed. We caught about four hours sleep in our usual campground in Mendenhall Valley. The owner treats us with fantastic care, was glad to see us, and greeted us both with hugs. There is obviously more to the trip across Canada, and I will try to post better details with pictures asap. Just wanted to let you know we are ok.