Thursday, June 17, 2021

Robin's Guest Cabin

      It was over 25 years ago I started work on the little guest cabin. There had been some cedar logs left over from the building of the house/lodge and were put to good use.

The logs were flattened on three sides using a light weight Alaska chainsaw mill.
September 1994, cabin base going up.

In 1997 a bathroom was added onto the side.

The cabin has hosted many guests over the years, I've had provincial and federal government people stay that are out on land negotiations, geologists from foreign mining companies, environmental technicians, Gary the logger stayed one winter while he built a road in the area, theres been well known celebrities, and others at the top of their field, and then there was the newly weds that  never came out of there for two days.
Some guests weren't allowed inside...
Raymond the bear, admiring his reflection in the window. 1996
He would stand up to look, then quickly duck down when he saw a bear looking back at him.

After a quarter century the log shell was showing its age and decided I better break out the sander and grinder. Sanding off that layer of old sealer is a demanding, messy job that wrecks havoc on my lungs,not to mention my back, which has never fully recovered from the milling of the logs back in 1994.

 All the cedar trim came off to be sanded, and it was all quite a bit of work.

 If I had to pick the best part of the job, it would have to be the application of the sealer.
I plug the phones in and put my mp3 player in my shorts pocket, and zone out into paint mode.
At $80 a gallon I'm pretty careful to not spill any.
The first coat soaks in and dries for a few days, then a light sanding and I go all over it again with a second coat, which really brings out the gloss. That looks 100% better, and good for another couple decades I hope. I still have the backside to do yet, I'll tackle that in the spring, if I feel like it, but for now I need to move onto other projects as winter approaches.



Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Fair Weather Worker, A Splurge Of Activity.

   In between summer and fall there was a window of good working weather, when it wasn't too hot or too wet or too cold, so I figured I'd better get off my butt and get some of this years projects done around here.
There was a tree I dug a hole for and planted back in 1994, it had contracted some malady and had to go. I needed to remove it's mate a few years ago as well, after catching the same whatever it got. Myself and those two trees shared a lot of seasons out here and I hated to see them go. Although I find I get use to them not being there pretty quickly, just one less thing to mow around.

Once I got it started the old tractor made short work of the tree, pushing it over then chained it up and packed off in one big piece, off to the old dead tree bone-yard.

Worst part was filling the hole back in by hand, sorting out the grass clods left behind, then raking it out and planting grass-seed. It all grew back within weeks and now you can hardly tell there was ever a tree there.

Another by the driveway that required a little TLC with the chainsaw.

Plus I got an ATV load of firewood for next season.

Not all my projects involve tearing trees out by the roots, or molestation by chainsaw.
 September brings the apples and plums in the orchard which in turn attracts the local nuisance bear. I don't half mind it getting some apples, but they got to break branches, claw-up the trees and if possible, knock them flat on the ground.

I forget how many times I've had to do this over the years, but the best fix for a flattened tree is to attach the winch cable on the S10 work truck, bringing the affected fruit trees back to vertical, and adding a suitable prop-stick to keep it there. Not long after the tree is able to stand on its own, it will be time for the bear again.

   I had been making noises about climbing up to sand and refinish the eaves on the main building for a number of years, but I always managed to come up with some excuse not too. Either it was too wet, too hot, or it was too cold, or I just plain didn't feel like it, or some lame-ass excuse. I recall a year or two back I got started one day and ran into a wasp nest (it was probably just one wasp I saw), so I decided to wait until Fall when they were all asleep for the season, then I think I forgot about it, or it got too cold or too wet or some thing or other.
   But I had procrastinated long enough, as the eaves were showing the 25 years of weathering and action needed to be taken. I had it figured that it was not going to cost me anything to do, as I had bought a supply of sanding discs a few years ago when I threatened to it the last time, plus I still had a can of the $89 a gallon finish I slop on after left over from a previous short-lived splurge of activity on  another project a month or two ago.

So I got myself rigged  up with a probably not WCB approved scaffolding and went to work with the electric sander. Its a messy awful job and you get cedar dust clogging most every orifice.

I had not been up there since I slopped on the finish in 1995, and I didn't have to sand along too far when I discovered that bats were living just above the eaves under the corrugated metal roofing (I had wondered where the bats lived actually). Much to my surprise, when you least expect it of course, several at a time would flap out at me as I sanded along in a big cloud of dust, nearly scaring me right off the scaffold. I'd just recover from that fright then another 3 or 4 would flap out in my face and I'd just about fall off all over again.

   The link between the two log buildings has an extra gable end or three, I had to throw a climbing rope over the roof, tying it to the ride-on mower parked back there on the lawn, with the other end wrapped around a porch rail on this side. I left enough slack so I could put a wrap around my waist or most often just hang on to it with one hand and sand up there without too much fear of sliding off the slippery metal roofing, which gets even harder to stand on after you've been sanding up there and feels like your wearing roller-skates. 
   If skidding off the roof is not enough, the odd wasp-nest made it interesting as well, and being tied on with the rope made it difficult to run away when I saw one as you just end up back where you started, so I took up a big can of brake cleaner to keep handy, so I could attempt to shoot my way out of any trouble in that regard. But after all the orifice choking dust, shoot-outs with wasp colonies, and friggin bats in my face, I was glad to have all the front eaves sanded with two coats of finish applied. 
Hopefully next year I can work up enough courage to go around and do the eaves on the other side of the house. 
   Seeing I was on a roll, and still had some feel-like-it left in me, I decided to keep working down the list.The hot-tub has been exposed to the elements out on the front deck since 2001. I had probably sanded it all down once already years ago but it was showing its age and needed to be torn out and pretty much re-built from the ground up. Actually, I almost started this project at the end of last season, but I think it must  have got too wet or cold, or maybe I saw a bee, and decided to put it off until spring. 
   Spring had come and gone long ago, but I had everything I needed around here for the job, providing I could find it, and I still had a half gallon of finish left over from the eaves, so I figured this project was only going to cost me a little tractor fuel and a whole pile of work and aggravation on my part.

I chained a beam to the tractor bucket to reach over the deck to pop the tub out of there.

I hauled over a pile of old wide boards I had been saving to make a door out of actually, but figured they would work just fine for the tub project. Of course everything including the old boards needed to be sanded down first, creating more orifice clogging clouds of sawdust.

The weather held and it didn't get too hot, or cold or started to rain and I managed to complete the hot tub enclosure and supporting under-structure on time, and on budget more or less.

So came the day to 'pop' it back in there.

We managed to drop the tub back in without too much trouble, or wrecking anything too badly.
Its always a relief when things fit close enough, just like the engineer had hoped.

Somewhere in between I managed to bring in 6 or 8 loads of wood for the coming Winter.

And one of my favorite days of the year...
The last mow of the season.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Been awhile.

   Well I don't know about you folks, but I was getting pretty tired of looking at that last story, and its been awhile since I've posted here. I keep waiting for something exciting to happen to write about, then next thing you know you get behind. Behind in what I'm not sure, but pretty soon it seems like a hell of a chore to catch up again. Gets a little embarrassing at times also, people are starting to write or drop in on their way to the hot spring to check on my well being, ...or not.
   I feel guilty checking the statcounter that tracks visits to the site, I see a lot of the same IP's come up time and time again. Of particular note is a reader out there on an Xplornet system coming out of Turner Valley that has recorded over 250 visits to the site here, a majority of those just checking to see if theres anything new I'm sure. So to this loyal reader, whoever you are, out there with bated breath in Alberta, and others like you, I'll attempt a new post, and put us all out of our misery.
    Most of the problem is always where to start, so I'm going to make it easy on myself and start right here, with a tea in the shop listening to the rain.
   It was a beautiful dry Fall that lasted almost to mid November.

I was mowing grass into the end of October.
I got my old tractor rescued from the last spot it broke down and gave it a good service, so I'm hoping it will start when I need it for plowing snow.

I got some second hand roofing and put metal sheets on the old tent frame. I've had tarps over top in the past but I had push the sagging snow off from underneath all the time. My tractor has spent about 38 of its 41 years parked outside, but finally got a shed of its own.

I had lots of help with the roofing from the shop-cat Spook.

    I managed to nearly fill my wood-shed enough to last the winter I hope, and got stuff put away under cover before winter. I've got a few more bits coming for my intake up the mountain that runs the generator, I'm going to be swapping out some pipe up there soon and hopefully a little better set up to deal with the cold weather I know is coming.
   So I sit here in my heated shop, with the power on and a cat on my lap and about as prepared for winter as I can get. But I know, sooner or later, life is going to get more interesting around here.
Then I will have more to write about I'm sure.
Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Night Of The Cat.

   For a guy that was pet-less for over 25 years, I seem to have acquired a regular clowder of cats around here. I've got Chyk and Chuk, my over-fed guard-cats that live in the house, and theres the new kitten Spook that lives out in the shop. But there has been another, less obvious member of the menagerie. A mystery cat that has survived by his wits in the wilds for I don't know how long.
   Last fall down at the hot spring people reported eyes at night around the campsite and food items missing in the morning. I caught a quick glimpse of it crossing a trail one day there, but that was all. The guys down at the gate have seen it a few times, and it spent some time around the cabin there in search of scraps or garbage bags to tear into, but it remained an elusive creature that would run off when it saw you. It's tracks evident in the snow showing it was still around, I began to take down food for it once a week to help take the edge off, as I'm sure it led a very tough life.
   Somehow, wild-cat finally found his way in the snow all the way up to the lodge about a month ago, I think he probably followed the snowmobile tracks here, his clandestine activities betrayed by a bag of garbage ripped into on the front porch one frigid night, and odd cat tracks around at first light.
Of course I began to leave a dish of food out for it which would be gone in the morning, the dish licked clean. I don't know where it spent it's days, but if caught in the flashlight beam at night it would always bound off taking huge leaps. I managed the catch it by accident a couple times, just a flash as it scampered off to the woods. Anyways, I was glad he was getting a steady meal for a change, as he was I'm sure, and might find himself a spot under the shop or the guest cabin maybe. Even though it may cause some issues with the existing cats, and the fact that I may never get near him, it was nice to know he was warm and dry, a full tummy, and safe from predators. He was usually referred to as wild kitty, but I started calling it Spunk.
So we had Chyk and Chuk, and Spook and wild-cat Spunk.
   A couple mornings ago I came out to the shop at first light to see he had been back as evident by his empty dish. I walked in and before I had time to sit down I heard a strange noise from outside. There are only so many sounds that happen out here, and anything out of the ordinary gets my attention. I heard it again and wondered if it was a raven, then all hell seemed to break loose outside, like the sound of the worst cat fight you can imagine. I ran out the door and through the orchard towards the racket. It was just getting light in the open, but once I got into the trees where the cats were fighting I had a difficult time seeing. Thinking my tom had got into it with wild Spunk I started hollering as I got there and as I stood there trying to focus in on the snarling ball of fur at the base of a tree, I suddenly realized it was a bobcat that had jumped a cat. At the time I didn't know which cat as I couldn't see, but the bobcat is laying on its side holding some poor creature biting clawing and scratching with it's hind legs, and all the time the victim is screaming bloody murder.
If there is one sure way of getting me stirred-up, it is something chewing on my cats.
   I still had on my slippers and thought twice about getting my feet in there but I looked down and spied a branch then picked it up and started in on the bobcat. He jumped up and bounds away and in my rage ran after him smacking at it with my stick. I turned around expecting to see an injured cat left behind, but nothing, the cat was gone.
   I ran back inside where I was greeted by the shop kitten Spook, whom appears to be unaware of any bobcat in the area. I ran back over to house to check that Chyk and Chuk were accounted for. Well, it had to of been poor Spunk. Back outside I see the bobcat has returned to the scene of the attack, hoping to start in where he left off I imagine. I dug out a firearm and put in a full clip, I hunted around following his tracks and catching nothing but a brief glimpse.
   It had snowed just a little the night before, just enough to make tracks and I could put together how it all went down. I could see where the bobcat had wandered around in the night searching for a victim. There was snow in some of his tracks so I knew he had been around for several hours.
When I clomped up on the deck at the shop that morning, Spunk ran out from under and around the back of the shop as he always seemed to do. Unfortunately this time a bobcat had been staking out the area, and him, and immediately gave chase.

 The tracks showed a spirited dash for life before the bobcat caught up to Spunk and there was a violent take-down here behind the shop, evident by the skid-marks and scratches on the ground.

There were some bits of fur in the snow, bobcat fur, so the wild cat Spunk had put up quite a fight.
The snow was flattened out like there had been quite the battle, and looked like Spunk had broken free then ran under the snowmobile trailer which probably slowed the bobcat down a little. Spunk's tracks emerged from the other side at a run and made the mistake of trying to climb a tree where the bobcat jumped up and up and hauled it down to a depression at the base where the two of them where locked in a life or death struggle. From the time I heard the sound that got my attention, it had taken me less than 20 seconds to get to the scene of the attack, which felt like an eternity. I never did see Spunk, but his tracks were there, leading from the scene at a fast rate, passing under the camper trailer, back to the shop and under the deck then emerging from the other end and making a direct line for the guest cabin then off into the woods where he feels most at home.
There was no blood, but I know from experience the damage done by a bobcat attack.
   I'm hoping he is under the small cabin now, warm and dry, and nursing his injuries, which I hope are not too severe. I've been staying clear of there for fear of scaring him off into the woods, if he hasn't gone already. But the fact is, I don't know where he is right now, and he will never seek help. I feel bad for the poor guy, to have lived so long on it's own then when it gets someplace 'safe' it gets jumped by a predator. The poor bugger finally had it made.
I've been setting his food out at night, but so far, it has remained untouched. The bobcat has moved on for now, but it will be back. I cleaned my rifle yesterday, checked the sights, taped a powerful flashlight to the barrel, and I keep it in a handy location. Wish me luck.

If you haven't heard enough about wild critters from the woods, here's more...

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Taste Test, Curiosity Spilled The Cat.

    A guy is never too old to learn it seems, and more often than I care to admit sometimes find myself in a situation that I could of handled a whole lot smarter like. Take that episode a few weeks back for instance, when I wandered out to the shop one morning before light as I usually do to make tea and read the Internet news. I turned on the lights out there and plugged the kettle in, and heading over to light the stove I happen to spot a small puddle of liquid underneath a motorcycle.
This got my curiosity up as there's nothing I hate worse than something leaking on the shop floor. 
   Funny I didn't smell gas, and anyways, I knew the bike had no fuel in it, and being an air-cooled engine it wasn't coolant. Brake fluid, it had to be brake fluid, but it didn't make sense why it would leak there. A leaky roof? It hadn't rained since before winter, and anyways, how the hell would the roof leak under a motorcycle. I got down on my knees for a closer inspection of the offending pool of fluid, sticking a finger in there to see if it was oil or water. 
It didn't feel like either, really, which only deepened the mystery.
   Like I mentioned, it was early, and I'm not so sure all the brain cells were fully operational quite yet but those that were, were fully engrossed in the variables of the puddle mystery. Pretty soon the other part of my brain, the three-quarters of it that is not quite up to speed yet decides to get involved, it takes control of my arm and dips a couple fingers in the mystery puddle, then brings a sample up close to my nose and I took a few sniffs. 
It wasn't gasoline, it wasn't anti-freeze, it wasn't brake-fluid and it wasn't quite water. What the hell was it? I watched my fingers go back for another dip, then up to my lips, hesitating for a moment before wiping them on an eagerly outstretched tongue to better identify the small pool of mystery liquid. 
Well, it tasted like nothing I had ever tasted before that's for sure.
   So I'm standing there at 6 in the morning swishing this around in my mouth and contemplating the bouquet when it suddenly dawns on me what it was, and you guessed right, it was cat urine. I made a run for the sink and held my mouth under the tap until I nearly choked on it. 
A good lesson learned, and you can bet I will be more careful when licking things off the shop floor around here in the future from now on.

Monday, January 1, 2018

New Years at the Hot Spring

The first morning of the year today and it was a beautiful one, but somewhat on the cool side.

We've had a stretch of cold weather like most of Canada, but despite the adversity so far I've managed to keep the power system up and running and the 'lodge cozy which is a big priority.

We've been snow free out here in the moutains until 4 days ago...
...then it began to look a little more like the end of December.

I've been growing some world-class icicles out on the shop roof.

Seeing there was sufficient snow I took a run down to the hot spring on the borrowed sled this morning to see what as going on this New Years day.

   I took down some cat-food to leave out for the mystery cat, which I set out there in a likely spot I hope he/she finds. My last post (2 months ago) I wrote about a new cat I acquired some people had found wandering near the hot spring campsite, and it turns out there was another, darker little cat that has been spotted hanging around campsites at night and getting spotted on occasion by the guys there at the office. It is three quarters wild and you can't get near it, poor thing. I don't need another one or anything, but I like to help out the little bugger is this harsh weather.
   There were 5 or 6 outfits camped-out and braving the minus 5 daytime temperatures and a few had left already by the time I arrived so it was a pretty good turn out for New Years Eve by the looks of things. They were all treated to a beautiful, bright full moon.
I think the majority of folks were packing-up when I pulled in and there wasn't anyone down at the tubs, so I got a chance to take some pictures. I usually don't take any if people are around.

I did bump into Kenny and Pia though, they read my site here and come out fairly regular for a week at a time.
"It's pretty comfortable in the camper-van." he told me,
"Other than our doors are froze shut."
I stopped in to see Ken at his campsite over in the corner, another Hotspringlodge reader, he and his crew of kids stomped a trail in the deep snow all the way down here the other day just to say hello.

   I could have dressed a little warmer so after a bit of visiting down there I heard a hot-chocolate calling my name and headed back home to stick close to the wood-stove.
Its been a pretty good start to the year, did some visiting, and nothing broke down.
I've got all the sh*t that broke down last year still, but nothings broken down yet this year.
I'm hoping my good luck continues.
Happy New Year all.