Ok, yesterday was rough, today is going better.
I was up until 11pm last night working on the wiring in the house, in hopes of getting an inspector out today. It seemed to pay off, I was able to get a hold of my inspector first thing this morning and schedule an inspection this morning.
I really didn't know what to expect, I had done lots of wiring before, but none that was inspected and I've only heard horror stories of how picky the inspectors are and to expect lots of criticism. I was prepared for the worse, but I was hoping the items I needed to correct would be small enough that I could finish them up tonight and have him recheck tomorrow before I leave town.
I met him at the house, and he seemed friendly enough, kind of odd, but friendly. He looked around the main area and said it looked pretty good. Just asked if the bathroom would be on it's own circuit and that the outlets would be gfi's. Didn't check any of the wiring really, took my word for it.
We went into the garage, which is uglier, and again he looked around a bit, told me I had done more work than I needed to, but that everything was fine. He didn't question any of the things I suspected he would. This was pretty easy.
Went inside, I showed him the breaker box, looked fine. The only thing he mentioned was that the ground wire for the new box should not have been run in conduit, but that was minor and he wasn't too concerned. He also said I might want to add one more outlet in the living room, but again a minor detail. He signed off and left. I'm free to close in the room. Man that was easy. I can only hope the plumbing goes as well, but somehow I think I used up my luck on electrical.
Cell Phones. yes, again.
I'm still frustrated with all the crappy info I got yesterday from the kids at Best-buy and on the phone with Verizon. I read the Large-fella's advice on phones, but I had a hard time just forking over $350 to Verizon just to end the contract, so I decided to give them one more shot. Time to play hardball, go straight to the Verizon store so I didn't have to deal with people over the phone or some high-school kid working best-buy just to get an employee discount on x-box games.
To my surprise and glee, they actually have adults working at the Verizon store, and they can access all the details of your account right there in the store. They even (dare I say) seemed to have a clue. A nice woman came up to me and asked if she could help me, so I explained my dilemma from yesterday. I wanted to know why when I am forced to sign a new agreement, why can't I get the new agreement price on a phone? After some discussing and mild (really I didn't have to say much) negotiating, she informed me that I do qualify for the new customer price on a phone as long as I sign a new 2 year agreement. That's all I wanted in the first place, turns out it is a Verizon policy, but the idiots at best buy and on the Verizon call center don't know that. To make matters even better, she was able to simply renew my existing agreement, which was a 3M corporate price, so no price increase at all. The topper was that there was also a $50 rebate on the phone and they would throw in the accessory kit for free (which was an additional $40 at best buy). I'd also like to point out that in their retail store, they don't display a misleading super-low price with fine print below it telling you the real price. They display the real price, with fine print below it stating what other discounts may apply.
When all was said and done, I walked out of the store with a new phone that was much nicer than what I was going to buy at Best-buy or through Verizon direct, and the exact same calling plan I had, which is exactly what I wanted. Guess that just shows me that I just needed to talk to the right people.
alright, enough for today.
I think I'm losing it. I'm not sure what "it" is, but whatever it is, it's gone. I'm really hoping to be able to find it this weekend. This week has really gotten to me, and it takes a lot to get to me.
It's pretty much been raining daily here for the better part of the last week. That doesn't help things, I'm trudging through mud constantly, even if I'm not working on the house, I have to walk through a mud-pit just to get to the front door. It's getting old. Mother nature simply has not been kind. I'm still without a land-line phone (sorry to any customers who have been trying to call) because the hole/trench with the phone lines in it has been submerged all week. It won't even stop raining long enough for me to fix that, and I've gotten enough 90v shocks off the line that I don't want to work on it in a submerged pit.
Beth's parents were in town this past weekend, and we all headed up to my folks cabin in northern MN. It should have been a nice break from the house, relaxing around the lake and having a good time. But it rained and was cold most of the time and I was pretty much reduced to sitting around thinking about my house. It's sad, but I've gotten to that point where I have a hard time enjoying anything because I have this damn house looming over me. I really just need to wrap up the plumbing and ventilation, then I think I'll be able to relax again. Then I can let Pat finish things up for me.
I did get my first crack at the plumbing complete this week, but after the first inspection, I've got a pretty good list of things to correct. Some minor, some pretty big, all pretty annoying. I think the most annoying to me is the fact that the shower faucet that I installed is apparently not up to code because it wasn't an anti-scald type mixer. Now come on. The plumbing code now feels they have to protect me from my own stupidity by installing a shower that's incapable of providing hot water? Gimme a break. I already pulled that out and went an bought a new one that is anti-scald, but it pisses me off that I even need to do this crap.
Anyhow, it's all adding up to a crappy week. I just want it to be done. I can't even remember the last time I rode my bike now, and we've got Chequomegon coming up next weekend. I can almost feel the cramps forming already. I really thought last year was as bad as that race could get for us, having not trained much due to planning our wedding, but I really think we may have outdone ourselves this year. Could be the worst showing yet!
I'm really getting down on how far behind I am in the shop. I've had very little free time to put in there, and when I am down there, it's in a state of chaos due to the remodeling. I've got tools everywhere, equipment all over and a bunch of junk that should be in a garage crowded into my shop right now. I really can't wait to have my space back. I know I've got at least two or three folks reading this with frames on order, don't worry, I will get to it, it's just been slow. I'm going to attempt to get some time in there this weekend if I can wrap up the plumbing. we'll see.....
Well, that's enough complaining for now, time to get some work done.
Everything's cool Bob. Sit, relax and take a deep snort of air... in a month or so, all of this will be a fading memory. As far as the shop work goes... we all know what's going on... it's cool, don't sweat it. I know I understand and I'm sure Nat is cool with it too... Just make sure Amy's ride is beautiful, send me pics of the lugs, did you get the other lugs carved yet, where's the mock up, I want to talk about that lowered top tube to make sure it isn't going to look cheesy, have you done the tests on metalugy you promised, when are you coming out next time, did you get my last email, what about the headbadge idea-can you do it, did you get me an estimate on Amy's components, why haven't you returned my last 5 calls, did you get those 7 emails I sent you yesterday and the day before yesterday?? COME ON MAN!! ;-) Inhale, deep calming inhalations of harmonious goodness... enjoy the gentle, calming purity that is Twin City Air. -Me
Well, here it is, Monday. That means another weekend has come and gone. It's funny, it really didn't seem like a weekend to me, I guess that's what happens when you work all weekend.
Before I bore you to tears with my tales of personal misery and hardship, I need to say a big (no make that huge) thanks to my Dad. He joined me in the misery that is my house remodel project all weekend, helping me finish up the plumbing and venting in 90 degree heat. I couldn't have gotten half as much done without him, so thanks Dad.
Friday started well, I only had a little plumbing work to tidy up then I thought I might slap some canti-bosses on an old road frame for 'cross season and go for a spin. Nice thinking, but my plans just never seem to work out for me. I spent pretty much all day Friday working on plumbing, making what seemed like a continuous run to various home-improvement stores all day long (they really ought to just put up a Menard's in my front yard, it would save me a ton of gas, either that or I'll just build my next addition in the Menard's parking lot then truck it back to my house). No ride. I did give up early enough to sneak in a little run, it's not a ride, but in a pinch it's better than no exercise.
Saturday more of the same, but not even time for a run! Finished up the plumbing, then moved onto ventilation. I really thought it would just be a matter of a few hours to put up 2 ducts and a return line, and it probably should have been, but it was like 90 degrees, and we're constantly running up and down between floors of the house and climbing ladders. I think the heat got to me, 'cause I kept noting having the right duct fittings on hand, so more trips to Menard's or the Despot.
About 6 Saturday evening, we needed another run for parts, so we decided to grab dinner on the way. We stopped by Andy's Garage in St. Paul, which is usually a great place to grab a burger, and it's a block from the best Menard's in town (that's how you know you're spending too much time at Menard's, I can rank which Menard's location has the highest probability of having a certain item in stock). So we find a table at Andy's and get our drinks. About two glasses of root beer later, the waitress finally takes our order. About the same time another couple sits down at the table next to us, and a family comes in as well. We note that they both place their orders shortly after we did. 45 minutes later, we still don't have our food. The couple at the table next to us is finished eating and paying the bill. I guess those Cheeseburgers are harder to cook than regular hamburgers. At about one hour, the other family is done eating, we still don't have food. Finally it comes out. We scarf it down, and Beth orders a malt to go as I'm still finishing (thinking that by the time I'm done eating her malt will be ready). Well, after another ten minutes we give up on waiting at the table for the malt and go up to the counter to pay. I pay for dinner and ask for the malt, only to be told they're a little backed up right now! So we wait for another small eternity and finally a chocolate malt is produced, so we leave unimpressed and really late. It's about 8:50 at this point, so we rush to Menard's hoping it's open till 10, not 9 and we luck out. We go in, make another yacht payment for Mr. Menard's, then go home.
Sunday I take a slower start. Didn't really get going till about 11. I started by taking afresh look at all the stuff we bought late the night before at Menard's, only to realize I missed several key ingredients. Basically I couldn't get any part of the project started without something. Like I said earlier, the heat was really getting to me Saturday, I think I just wasn't thinking right when I made my shopping list.
So we started Sunday with another trip to the store, the first of many. Fortunately Beth was able to do most of the running for us while Dad and I pressed on in the heat. We worked all day and finally got all the ducting up. I put a few finishing touches on stuff, then collapsed into bed.
This morning I called to set up a couple inspections, but the ventilation guy can't come till tomorrow. So I'll have to wait till then to see how much I screwed up and what I'll have to fix. I had one plumbing inspection today, which was ok, but I couldn't get my pressure test of the drain line to work right today, so I need to have him see that tomorrow. I need to come up with a low pressure -pressure guage quick, like 0-15 psi. My 0-100 psi guages are useless for a 5 psi test.
Still absolutely no riding time for me. I hope to get out this week once the inspections are done. I should have more time then. I also hope to get in some quality shop time soon too. If I can get past these two inspections this week, that will buy me some time away from house-related projects. I can't wait.
In other news, I highly suspect Beth and I will be bailing out of the Chequomegon fat-tire fest this weekend. That really bums me out in the big-picture sense, but I think it's the smart move since we haven't had any time to train in the last few weeks. We proved last year that it's pretty painful to do the race on no training, and neither one of us feels like repeating that experience right now. Not to mention she seemed to be coming down with a little cold or something yesterday, and I think I'm on the verge of a complete physical breakdown from the house. So if anyone needs a room up there for the weekend, let me know asap, otherwise I'm canceling my hotel reservation pretty soon.
Well I won't say for sure, but last night went better than any night in recent times.
I had a snafu on the plumbing inspection yesterday, I couldn't get my pressure Gauge to work right for the pressure test of the drain lines. So I searched high and low in the shop till I found an old 0-30psi regulator and Gauge. Once I got that connected up, everything was fine. I charged up the system and it's been holding since last night, so I think I'll be good to go with calling the inspector again today and finally wrapping this up.
My plumbing inspector must hate me, I've had him out to the house every day for the last 4 days (not always for inspections, he told me to just call with any questions, so he's made a few trips to advise me of things). What really gets me is that nothing I've had to change from my original plumbing has or will make any kind of functional difference. It's changing for the sake of appeasing a generic, very broad code. But I guess that's part of this process. In hindsight, the biggest mistake I have made on this project was not hiring out the plumbing. It's not that I can't do it, but it's been a huge time-sink. I've now wasted a whole week on plumbing for one bathroom, a project which should have taken a day.
I was finally able to do some cleaning and prep work in my shop last night. It's really nice to be able to pick up and make it look like a work-able bike shop again, not a home improvement disaster. I even got a few repairs together and ready to ship out. Woo-hoo, bike progress, even if it's small it's good!
This afternoon is a new adventure, the ventilation inspection. I'm not sure what to expect there, I'm only adding three ducts for air-conditioning purposes, so it's pretty straightforward, but at one point I thought the plumbing was pretty straightforward!
We had some rough weather roll through last night again. Another 2" of rain fell in St. Paul, but we were lucky, there was a pretty big area west of town that got 6"! We must be near stabilization on the erosion in the front yard because it didn't look like all that much ran off into the driveway this time. I guess that's good, maybe. But now it needs to dry out again before Pat can dig (which he was planning on doing tonight).
well, here's hoping for good inspections today, then maybe I'll be able to do some honest-to-goodness bicycle framework this week and have something more interesting to write about!
Yes that's right, at long last we are free from the shackles and chains of city inspectors (at least for a little while). I think I'm finally going to be able to take a little rest, I passed the ventilation and framing inspections yesterday.
After sticking up 300 yards of foil tape to duct work, and installing 150' of refletix insulation, the inspector was impressed and my hands were really sore and cut-up. Once he left and the framing inspector gave Pat the thumbs-up on proceeding with insulation, I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders. So to celebrate I did something I've been wanting to do for a long time. I rode my bike.
It had been 20 days since the last time I rode a bike, and well it felt like it had been about 20 days since i had been on a bike. Who cares though, it was beautiful out, and I wasn't working on my house! how much better could it get. I bought a nice new set of road shoes and pedals back in July, I installed them right after I bought them. I realized yesterday that I was taking the third ride on them. That's really sad, but what can you do. Road riding takes large blocks of available time, which I haven't had.
I hope to get out for a couple more rides this weekend, maybe start my 'cross training program. Unfortunately we won't be heading north to Cable for the Chequomegon. I cancelled our hotel reservation today. Beth is still pretty sick, and based on how much my 250-30 mile ride hurt yesterday, I think we made the right move bagging the race. Besides now I can clean up the shop and maybe even do some bike-work this weekend.
I have actually started working in the shop a little again. I did a little paint prep on a frame, and put together the tubing for next frame. Even did a little filing on the wife-of-the-large-fella's bike, hope to finish those lugs up very soon and get the frame together.
Aside from finishing up the permits on the house, there was one other exciting development. Pat got ambitious Wednesday night and decided to cut the hole in my basement wall for the new doorway into the shop. I wasn't prepared for this, so things got a little messy. You see, he had to cut 8" of solid concrete with his saw to make the opening, and saw-cutting concrete is a messy operation. But we managed and got the two vertical cuts in, then he put in two horizontal cuts so that he could remove it in sections. Here's how things looked with removing the middle section:
That part went pretty smooth, they just knocked the chunk out with the sledge and hauled it off in the bobcat. Once that was out, the bottom part wasn't too bad to remove. With four of us, we just pushed it over right into the bucket of the bobcat.
That left us with a big slab-o-concrete hanging from the sill plate (shown here from the inside of the basement):
It was really not moving though. The top bolts were still in the sill plate, but there were no nuts on them. It was just a tight fit. We could move it, and Pat could swing it a little with the bobcat, but unfortunately the opening wasn't big enough for him to fit his bucket inside and directly under it. All I could envision was it swinging in when it fell and taking out the temporary bracing they installed to hold up the floor joists. What to do?
Pat decided to jack-hammer out a little more concrete on the sides where it was binding, then we'd try to pull it out into the garage with the corner of the bucket. Well, he got it to swing outward with the bucket:
Then Matt and I got pry-bars in between the concrete and the sill plate, and with far more luck than skill:
It fell right into his bucket. Truly unbelievable. There was no way you could have convinced me it would fall there, and there was no way it was a function of any of our skill (despite what Pat might tell ya). As Matt said, sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.
So now we have a big hole in the basement, I think he'll be framing in the header and door tonight. In the meantime, I have one hell of a mess to clean up. There's concrete dust everywhere, and water all over. I think I'm just going to have to hose out the shop (literally). yuck.
well, that's it for today, hopefully there'll be more bike-talk here after the weekend.
Oh, and just a tease, the first order of Bob Brown Cycles/ Kenwood Racing team waterbottles is placed and should be here in time for 'cross season. So look for the Kenwoodies to have the most stylin' hand-ups around at the 'cross races!
Dude! I'm happy for you; and, I'm happy for me. Great weather we're having for you to really enjoy having some time for biking again, too, eh?
Bx2- Ignore Nat, he's just trying to get bumped up in your queue. You oughta see the email he sent me a couple weeks back just slamming you, saying the house renovations were a sham... that he'd ridden by your house and there wasn't any construction going on... that these photos were, " ...just the result of one very bored SOB that had a quick hand with Photoshop". ;-) Hi Nat! Yes, it is indeed good news!! -Me
It's about time I had some bike stuff to talk about, this is after all a bicycle framebuilder's blog.
I've been on a slight break with the house stuff, which I'm sure won't last long, but I'm taking advantage of it. I rode my bike three times in three days, that got to be some kind of record.
Last weekend, I slapped some canti bosses on my old fixed gear frame and did a couple other tweaks, then gave her a team paint job. Hello makeshift cyclocross bike! I have a full tubeset and lugs to build myself a new 'cross bike since I never replaced my old 'cross bike after getting rid of it due to emotional detachment from my accident. So I decided that old fixie wasn't seeing much action since I set my rb-1 up as a fixie, so why not use it for something else. It's close to cx geometry, a little tight on mud-clearance around the tires, but adequate for MN 'cross. Just needed some brakes and a little paint.
I had a few repairs that needed small amounts of paint, so Saturday I sprayed some paint and did some finish work. It felt great to actually finish up a few projects in the shop. After painting, I went through my parts bins and gathered enough stuff to build up the CX bike right (side note, I really should have a part's sale, things are starting to pile up). It came out pretty nice, good build up for spare parts: Ritchey 'cross cranks, Ritchey post, old XTR canti's (anyone got any more of those for sale let me know, I love 'em), diacompe canti-drop bar brake levers, Salsa bell-lap bars, some nice Mavic SS wheels. You get the idea. here's a really bad pic:
You can see I went all out on the photography, setting up my best back-drop and getting a good angle of the bike on the shot! Ok, I was in a hurry.... It's a pretty fun ride. I'm going to switch out the bars to a wider set that I have laying around, but otherwise not bad. Should serve me very well this year. The Kenwood gold team paint will be a bit over the top with my gold skinsuit, but who cares. Incidentally, this frame is the first frame I ever built. It's been going strong for a long time and I'm pretty excited to be riding it again. It's certainly not a work of art, but I think it's great to still be riding it.
So all that work on my own personal bike put some guilt in me about getting to work on other people's frames, so I did something about that too. I'm nearly done with the next set of super-fancy lugs (which are going on the next framebuild). All I have left to carve are two small hearts, then I can start cutting tubes (I ran out of blades for my jeweler's saw, otherwise those two hearts would be done too! I'll finish them up this week). I'll have some pictures here soon. In the meantime, here's one showing how I make enough room for some of the artwork I carve out:
This is the underside of a Pacenti upper headlug. It didn't have quite enough real-estate for me to make the points match the other three lugs, so I added on some more metal. Basically I just cut a section of tubing and braze it onto the tang of the lug. Then I'll go in and smooth it to a seamless blend with the lug surface, then carve the shape I need. This one will have long side-points, then a large center tang with a heart cut into it.
This is going to be one heck of a nice bike when it's done, can't wait to see the finished product.
Ok, you knew you couldn't' read this without a little update on the house, right? Pat's been insulating, he's nearly done and hopes to have his inspection for that tomorrow. The outside is now wrapped in housewrap, and the siding will come next. Here's the outside view:
He also got the stub roof over the front shingled, which looks much more finished than the OSB that was there. He graded out the garage floor for me as well, so I can put down the insulation and radiant heat tubing in the floor before he pours it. At least that shouldn't take long to do, but I'll have to sneak it in between the three trips I'm taking in the next 2 weeks (yeah, work is getting busy again).
Inside the insulation is nearly done as well. He's just got part of the interior ceiling left to do. I suspect he'll have that done today.
It's really taking the shape of a house. I suspect he'll get most of the drywall up this weekend while we're gone, so hopefully we'll come back to a drywalled room.
That's the news for now
Great stuff Bob!! I'm getting XXcited to see the lugs... I just know Amy's going to be blown away by this one! The house is looking wonderful... you folks have GOT to be happy to be this far along. What's up with the advertisements on the blog? My Firefox blocked some but not all... whoever provides your blogware is spamming hard. -Me
WOW! Now that I submitted that post above... I see what's going on. Fortune City must own your blogware... THE worst. They are a big pile of steaming dogpoo when it comes to SPAM, ad's, pop-up's and spyware. My suggestion... if you wanna keep things free: grab all of your entries and pics and head over to Blogger and start a free account. They don't spam you. If you wanna pay and get more than Blogger... use what I use... TypePad. Either way... it's looking like you have enough hits here that ol' Fortune City sees your blog as fodder for advertising. Not only am I now getting pop-up's here Bob but they are underling & highlighting keywords in posts for advertising links. -Me
I've been thinking of moving the blog somewhere else for a while, this may be the final thing to make me do it. I've been really frustrated at how nearly nobody can actually get the thing to register them, now the spam is getting bad. Look for a move very soon. Scott, your email address has been bouncing for me, are you having issues? I've got some pictures for you. Bob
Alright, let's start off with the exciting part. I have pretty much (except for some finish sanding) finished up the next set of nature lugs. I've uploaded 4 more pictures of them to the Amy C. gallery, these will go along with the froggie lug to make one heck of a neat frame.
The Butterfly is a bit different than the last nature bike, the customer requested it that way, and I'm really pleased with how it looks, here's a thumbnail, check the gallery for full-size pics:
The little tails are a nice touch, I had to add a bit more material to make it work, but I like the overall look. This is the lower headtube lug, so the butterfly will be sitting on top of the downtube. I carved out the side points as well to match the froggie theme lug. I really like the way the side points came out on all the lugs, it's unique and very sharp looking.
There's almost no way to describe the dragonfly except "delicate".
Again, take a look in the gallery for the big pictures. This lug has a lot going on. I began by carving out the musical notes in each side of the headtube portion, then I carved out the side points, followed by the hearts (which can't be seen here) in the front and under the top-tube. Finally I carved the dragonfly out of a separate piece of tubing, then welded it to the lug and filed the whole thing down smooth. The dragonfly itself is very thin, about .7mm thick, so the lug tapers down to that thickness to keep things looking smooth. I can't wait to see it brazed up!
You might be wondering about the mixture of themes on the lugs, music, hearts, insects, frogs, etc... Well it's a special frame, a surprize for the wife of a great customer, he wanted it to reflect all the things she loves most. So he provieds the ideas, and I execute them, hopefully together we can make her something really special.
We had some pretty bad storms roll through the area last night. We fared alright, the usual torrents of rain which cause erosion of dirt into our newly graded garage. So much for being graded, half of it was under water this morning. We got 3" of rain here, but some parts of the city got 5"!
I got a call this morning from my Dad asking if I could give them a hand with sawing some trees. All the Boulevard trees on their street (and many more) were taken out by straight line winds. So I packed up my chainsaw, extra gas, and the trailer and headed over. I couldn't believe what I saw when I got there. It was like a huge storm pinpointed their street. I couldn't drive down the street, it was completely blocked by all the downed trees, so I went around the block and came in from the other side. This neighborhood was built in the mid 70's so all the trees were about 30 years old, mostly ash, so they were big. My parents were lucky, as it was only their boulevard tree, and it didn't hit anything other than the driveway. Many folks had trees on houses and cars. The city showed up about the same time I did with a big work crew and a boom-arm truck. They began clearing the street and hauling off branches, so the work went pretty fast.
Once that was taken care of, my Brother asked if I could swing by his in-laws and help with a limb that landed on their roof, so we headed there next. I was expecting a 3-4" diameter limb that we could just saw off and clean up, what I found was a 14" diameter limb of an Oak tree. It had put a hole in the roof, and took out part of their chimney. It was dangling from behind the chimney. So we went to work, cutting all the loose stuff off and slowly getting it to a point we felt more comfortable dropping it from the roof without hitting the neighbor's house, or hitting either of us.
Alright, I'm tired out now, so that's it. talk at you later.
Bob- First off... again glad that everyone out there survived the winds and falling trees. Next... WOW. Killin', absolutely killing! Man, the butterfly and dragonfly are absolutely perfect. So delicate and detailed... I really have to say, I think Amy is going to flip over this completely. She's going to be so happy when she sees this. You HAVE to be happy with the results because I know I am! Beautiful work!! Nature Porn! I don't know Bob... after paint, I think you're gonna want to take this beauty to a studio somewhere out there and have it photographed professionally for the website, magazines, etc. Of course, all this beautiful work is killing me with pressure to come up with the best color scheme I can think of... now having seen these newest lugs I have about 10 new ideas for paint. Curse You! Thank You Brother... -Me
Geeze big fella, I almost forgot, I hope those pic's are a good birthday present for ya! What are you again? like 23? Happy b-day. I'm glad you're happy with them, I know I'm pretty pleased with how they came out. Oh, and for those wondering, Yes, this thing where the ad banner on the right hand site get's huge sometimes is a known problem with this site right now, they're working on it, and I'm working on moving the blog to a good site.... bbbb
I needed a little rest this weekend after the hectic week last week, so our weekend plans of heading up north to the Boundary waters sounded perfect. We had planned to go up Thursday night, but the storms caused some delay, so we left Friday morning with 4 folks.
We made it up to Ely fine and got some lunch, then headed to the outfitter to pick up our boats and permit. After some good banter with the locals in the outfitter (things must slow down in Sept, they seemed pretty eager to chit-chat a lot). we headed up to our launch site. Team leader Blake had put together the route for this paddling trip, which would start with a couple lakes then wind along a river for most of the return. It was a nice weekend loop, but chock full of long portages. Doing river routes in the BWCA tends to be pretty portage-filled since there are lots of rapids around, this one didn't disappoint.
The first one was easy, it was a roller-portage for motorized boats, meaning there's a series or rollers mounted in the ground that you can just roll the fully loaded boat along to the other side. The next one was close to 200 rods (which is just under 3/4 mile). It doesn't sound that long, but when you're carrying a boat and a 50lb pack for that long, your shoulders start to rebel. Beth and I are both pretty experienced paddlers, but we hadn't done much canoe camping together, so we could have optimized our packing methods a bit. We have a nice canoe pack with holds most of our cooking and sleeping gear, but we choose poorly on carrying the remaining food in a large single strap Bailey Bag. Seemed like a good idea at midnight Thursday when we were both still packing, but my sleep deprivation must have been showing. It was a terrible idea. There was no way to comfortably carry that bag with anything else it seemed, it just cut off your shoulder no matter what. Oh well, live and learn, we won't repeat that mistake.
Friday night was great, we had a nice camp site, a good first day of paddling and good dinner. But the trip was just beginning. Saturday we woke up to rain, several times. In fact each time Beth and I thought about getting out of the tent it seemed the rain would start up again. So we got a late start. Made breakfast in between clouds, packed up and headed out into the wet. It rained pretty much all morning, but at least it was a little warmer than the previous day, probably in the 50's. Eventually the rain let up and we paddled further to find the next campsite and conquer a few more killer portages. We set-up camp on a nice site about 3/4 of the way through the route and began trying to dry out gear. Things don't dry so well in a drizzle, so really we just set our wet-gear out and let it stay wet....
Just before sunset, one fellow camper realized that she didn't have her hiking boots, they were left at one of the portages. Not good timing as it was nearly dusk and her best recollection of having them was at least 2 portages back. So being the chivalrous gentlemen we are, Mark and I headed out, back to find the boots, at dusk in the wilderness, in a canoe on a very cloudy night with no moonlight. Probably not the best conditions to paddle in, but what the heck.
It was actually a really nice paddle. The water was like glass the whole way, and we had a reasonable amount of ambient light until the second portage (which was a really long one). Fortunately we were able to find the boots right where she thought they were left. We turned around to make the return trip in nearly complete darkness, which was interesting! I had made good mental notes of how to find our way back and Mark was up front navigating as best one can do in darkness. The trickiest part ended up being the long portage back in the dark, the ground was really rooted and slippery and we were a little tired I think, but we made it. Got back into section of river we were camping on and knew all we had to do was follow the shore back to the site. All was good with the exception of about halfway back to the site, we completely t-boned a large rock sticking up out of the water. We simply never even saw the thing coming. Did I mention we were in a Kevlar boat? thankfully, a Kevlar RENTAL boat! No permanent damage, but man was it a bit hit.
Sunday was nice when we got up, but we could see rain wouldn't be far off, so we got out as quick as we could. Did the last two killer portages (210 rods, 190 rods, both really uphill) and made it out. The weather held off and we loaded things up before the rains came.
We decided to take the long way home through Isabella, Mark and Amy thought that might be nice, so they joined us. Beth used to work in Isabella for the Forest Service and they're currently selling off the land and cabins she lived in, so she wanted to see the area one last time before it was redeveloped. Nice drive, but the rains started coming about halfway to Beaver Bay, then only got heavier. We stopped in Two Harbors for some dinner then pressed onward to home. Good weekend.
I applaud you if you've gotten his far and are still awake (which I presume since it's hard to read while dozing off). But we did come home to some exciting progress on the house. While we were gone, Pat finished hanging all the drywall, and he took out the wall between the kitchen and the new room, so it really feels like a bon-a-fide room now! here's the view:
It's hard to see in a picture, but it really looks much bigger now with the drywall. I love how open it all is, especially between the kitchen and this room. Now I can't wait to finish it up and actually use it.
The garage ceiling was also drywalled, but the floor shows signs of more rain while we were gone:
That's kind of a bummer since I was hoping to put down the insulation and tubing for the in-floor heat here before I leave town again tomorrow. Doesn't look like it's too suitable for foam insulation yet, needs to dry out a bit. Pat was hoping to pour concrete in here this week, but unless things dry up, I don't think we can.
Quick bike update: I did get in a couple 'cross training rides on the "new" bike last week, and it's pretty darn good. I did splurge on new tires for it and picked up some panaracer crossblaster tires. Don't be put off the really poor choice of name on these things, they rock. They're a really nice round casing, 31c width, which measures out at about most manufacturers 35c size. Even tread, and they seem really happy and comfy at 50 psi. I highly recommend them so far. Durability is unknown since I only have 2 rides on them.
I just got home from a quick trip out to so-cal for work. It wasn't a bad trip actually, the weather was very nice, and the flights went fairly ok, which these days is pretty good for Northwest Airlines.
The flight out was late, but I managed, got to Orange County and found my rental car. We just switched to National instead of the long-time standard of Hertz for corporate rentals. So far it seems like a change for the better.
I made my way through the chaos which is the LA area to my Hotel and was fairly amazed at the amount of traffic for 10pm on a Tuesday night. Lots of cars, but it flowed well. Made my trip to the plant the next day, took a turn onto the wrong direction of Freeway and ended up seeing a bit more of the southern California landscape than I planned. One side rant, what's the deal with CA not putting any navigational directions on their interstate signs? Is North, South, East, and West too difficult for people to figure out? All the interstate ramps have such highly helpful wording as "FWY 91 Beach Cities", or "71 Pomona or Ontario". Um is that north or south? These signs have a prerequisite of knowing geographically where every suburb of LA is so you know which direction to go. I saw one single highway sign with a direction on it, it was for hwy 55 south.
Ok enough side-tracking, let's get onto the real deal, traveling via air... So where else do you end up packing into an aluminum can like sardines with 150 other people who have absolutely nothing in common with you? I travel by air a lot and I'm always amazed at the slice of humanity you see on a plane, the business travelers in their Armani digs who seem to get some thrill by talking on their cell phones as loud as possibly about inconsequential business details right until the plane door shuts, trying their best to make you realize how important they are. Or the really pissed off guy, you know the one, there's one on every flight, the airline screwed him over and he's out to make sure everyone on that planes knows it. Take a Friday 5pm flight and you'll see more than one of these.
My flight today was one of the more interesting ones I've been on. It wasn't bad or anything, just interesting. I left my hotel room at 4:15 am to head to the airport (the time change makes it palatable since that's only 6:15 central time). Got there nice and early to find that my usual window seat had somehow been given away and I was stuck in a middle seat. No exit row left, no first class left. Oh well, It's not the first time. So I board the plane with pretty much the rest of the passengers when they call the Northwest Elite class (I'm one of the unfortunate ones who flys enough to get into these programs free). It's funny, but literally half the plane pre-boards these days and I can guarantee you it's not because they all need extra time getting down the jetway! I actually had a flight once where the gate agent enforced the policy of only letting those on who she had called, and she turned back about 75% of the people that tried to board. What's wrong with people? where was I going with this? oh yeah, humanity.....
So I find my middle seat and stow my bag above. A friendly looking lady of about 55 (I'd guess) takes the isle seat next to me, then about ten minutes later a frustrated looking woman probably in her mid 40's takes the window seat. None of us really say much to each other, which is fine by me, I just assume sleep. Turns out I nailed the frustrated description of the woman to my left. She never really talked to me, but she mumbled profanities under her breath about nearly every passenger around us for the first 15 minutes. There were three small children (I'd say under 1 year) surrounding us, which is never fun with the unfamiliar air-pressure pain they get in the ears which always makes them cry. I like to think I'm a fairly intelligent person though and I realize they're not crying to piss me off, but rather they simply don't like what's happening to them and most sub-one-year-olds lack the ability to say; Mommy, I don't care for the unequal pressurization occurring between the confined atmosphere of the plane interior and my head. My eardrums are moving in an unusual manner causing me discomfort. So every time one of these three peeped, she'd mumble something new, or mumble to herself about forgetting her book, or how the airlines are a conspiracy... I put on my headphones and ignored her.
The woman to my right was pleasant enough, kept to herself. She had brought along her own method to pass the time, she colored. At first I thought she was the grandmother of the little girl across the isle, and was coloring a picture for her, but no. She had a whole folder full of children's pictures from a coloring book, and she had a set of 64 crayola colored pencils, all neatly sharpened and all perfectly arranged. I have to say she was very good, never went outside the lines, rivaled that of any top-notch 6 year old. I enjoyed watching her color. It reminded me of my friend Kate who likes to color sometimes (really who doesn't like to color, I know I do, I just don't usually do it for 3.5 hours straight on an airplane).
Behind us was a man and a woman who were working on crossword puzzles the whole time. Between the two of them, I'd say they were clueless. I kept wanting to tell them the answer to the questions they would ask, but I knew if I did it would kill my feigned sleeping and might cause the pissed off woman next to me to want to "share" her thoughts with me. I'd hear things like " this clue says the top-story and the word is A-T-(blank) - I - C. And they honestly couldn't figure out the answer. My favorite was when he asked her is "bocce" was spelled "botchy" or just "bochy", or when she had to spend almost 5 minutes trying to explain what seersucker cloth looked like. He had never heard the word before. Folks like this ought to just not do cross words you'd think.
Oh well, the flight ended fine, and I made my hasty departure from the plane. It was an entertaining flight at least.
Gotta run so I can get back to bike work.