Sunday, September 13, 2015

Cabin part 12: Spring and early summer 2015

It has been a very looong time since I posted anything on this blog. All I can say is, it's been a very busy year, with lots of trips to the cabin interspersed by intense periods of working on client projects at home.

In May, we started work in earnest. One of our main goals was to install three exterior doors and three windows in the lower level. We also planned to put the board-and-batten siding on the north gable (time to cover up those ugly white Tyvek triangles!). We also contracted with Michael Valentini to install our fire suppression (sprinkler) system, and to install the line to the lake to draw water.

We had lots of fun bird activity, starting with hummingbirds in May. Above, you can see a male (on the left) and a female, visiting the feeder that hangs off our deck about 10 feet above the ground. As in the past, the male defended the feeder aggressively, driving off all other hummers who dared to visit "his" feeder.

The lupines were very plentiful this year, and really quite stunning from early June (photo at right) through Labor Day. Although they are non-native plants (which means that many people think they should be eliminated), they are a hallmark of the North Shore. (As always, you can click on any photo on this page to see an enlargement, and there will be a row of all photos along the bottom that you can scroll through.)

We desperately need a shed to store tools, wood, and various materials. After considering many options, we bought this temporary tent-shed, and it has been a life-saver. We hope to put up a real shed next spring; hopefully, the tarp walls of our tent-shed will withstand the winter snows and storms. For now, this tent-shed is really doing the job.

The Gunflint Trail (where our cabin is located) has had a number of major wildfires in the last two decades. As a result, many people who have lake access install sprinkler systems, which pump water from the lake and spray it over the property through a network of sprinkler heads mounted on posts. We had our system installed in May. The pump, which runs on propane or gasoline, is shown at right; it's on the shore and has a water hose that runs into the lake. It's got more than a dozen sprinkler heads, including one on top of the cabin. The firefighters up there say that these systems absolutely make the difference between a cabin burning down when fire sweeps through, or surviving. I hope we never have to find out!

After a series of manufacturing errors (which started last year), we finally received our three exterior doors. They are white in the photos, but we'll be painting them later this year. Bruce and I tackled the most difficult one first--the deck door, which had to be re-framed to accommodate a smaller door. Since it's in the log level, this is somewhat of a challenge, as we have to build special "bucks" that allow the logs to settle over time (meaning we can't attach the door jambs directly to the logs; see the bottom of my earlier post for details on that).

Unfortunately, during a period of intense work in early June, Bruce got a pinched nerve in his neck and was virtually unable to work for about a month. He lost all strength in his hand, and had a lot of pain in his right shoulder, elbow and arm for about a month. It slowly got better, but we decided to hire a crew to install the other two doors and also two windows in the lower level. Here's Jim Baird installing the main entry door that leads to the parking lot. He also put up the board-and-batten on the north gable (with assistance from Kevin and Brian, all part of Michael Valentini's crew who had installed out sprinkler system) and finished the tricky soffit install under the peak over the main entry door.

 Bruce was starting to get some strength back in his hand by the end of June and was able to put the hardware on the doors. They look really sharp. The door to the deck is shown in the photo at right. Everything will look even better once we get the doors painted!

We still need to put interior trim on all the windows, throughout the cabin. At this point, it will probably be next year before we get around to that; we decided to concentrate on the exterior this year.  Two of the windows in the lower level can be seen in the photo at right. The windows, including the one in the door, really opened up that space, which was rather cave-like before.

Michael Valentini's crew also installed the lake water system, which draws water out of the lake and into a pressure tank in the crawlspace below the cabin. We opted for a high-tech water line that has a built-in heating cable along the entire line; it's called Carapace, and is manufactured in Canada, where they know something about cold temperatures. The Carapace heat system has sensors all along the line, that constantly measure the temperature and send heat only where it's needed. This is a big contrast to simply running a heating cable through the center of the water line (which is a more common method) because the entire line isn't being heated all the time. We'll see how it works once the snow flies. The Carapace is in the photo at left; it's the blue tubing that's wrapped up in plastic. It was installed inside the solid (non-perforated) drain tile on the left of the photo (the black stuff), which also contains the power line for the pump that is in the lake.

We had a bunch of pine siskins roll through in June also. They really take over the feeder when they are around, driving off the goldfinches, chickadees and purple finches. But they seem to move around in big groups that range fairly widely, so they are here today, gone tomorrow. The group in the photo at right is one of the smaller batches; at times, we had a dozen or more all trying to feed at once, and fighting for position at the feeder ports. They are aggressive little buggers.

I'll throw in one more shot of a beautiful mixed-color group of lupines. This was taken at the very end of June. Coming up in the next post: Stone facing on the cabin foundation!

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