Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Long, Hard Week


This is the week to have my existing kitchen counter tops removed and replaced with granite. As the post title says, it’s been a long hard week. The photo at the top of the post shows the “before” conditions. There was a mixture of laminate, tile and granite counter tops with a tile backsplash. The granite on the island in the center of the kitchen was installed about ten years ago and is not a very high quality granite. Everything else is original to the house which is going on 15 years old now. The plan is to remove all the counter tops, backsplash and sink and replace with new high quality granite tile backsplash and a new granite composite sink.

The contractor arrived punctually first thing Monday morning to begin the demolition. I was amazed at the efficiency of his men in the removal of both the existing counter tops and tile backsplash. They also removed the sink. The entire demolition only took a couple of hours and I thought that this was going to be a snap!kit3

A snap is exactly what I heard Tuesday morning at about 3 am. The snap was followed by the sound of running water! I raced downstairs to find water shooting out of the uncapped hot water pipe that was previously connected to the sink. Water was everywhere. The sink is directly in front of the window on the right in the picture above. Water was all over the floor, the walls, the ceiling and the window. Panic took over as I raced down to the basement to shut off the main water valve to the house. I’m guessing that the water flowed full blast for a period of about 10-15 minutes before I shut down the main valve. The Bride and I spent the next couple of hours sopping up all the water we could. We used every towel we had in the house….clean or dirty, and I must say, we have a lot of towels.kit5

A pointed phone call was made to the contractor at 6am. To his credit the contractor dispatched a plumber immediately and both the plumber and the contractor were at my house in about 45 minutes. After the plumber replaced the ball valves for both hot and cold water we investigate the extent of the damage. It was clear that water had gotten beneath the wood flooring and had run on top of the sub floor to a small carpeted area adjacent to the kitchen. Fortunately there appeared to be no damage to the ceiling in the finished basement below. The contractor assured me that he would repair any damage caused by the water. It would take another day for the extent of the damage to become apparent. Nothing further was scheduled in the home for Tuesday as this was the day the contractor was cutting and preparing the granite at his shop.

On Wednesday the contractor arrived bright and early to install the countertops. By Wednesday morning it was also possible to see the effects of the water on the hardwood floor. The water between the hardwood floor and sub-floor had caused the hardwood to cup severely. The contractor consulted with his “floor guy” and I started searching the internet for information about cupped hardwood floors. It appears that if the cupping does not get any worse it will be possible to sand the floor down once it dries completely, and refinish it. The contractor again reassured me that he would be responsible for the repairs. The granite install took all day but it turned out beautifully if I do say so myself.kit4

Thursday was supposed to be the final work day and the day that the tile backsplash was installed. This day only one worker was sent to accomplish the task. He worked slowly and methodically and by about 6 pm completed the tile. About the time he finished up the contractor appeared with his “floor guy”. The floor guy confirmed that he could sand the cupping out of the floor provided it got no worse and since it had been two days since the flood, he didn’t think it would get worse. We set a date for the second week in May to sand and refinish the floor.

I am totally thrilled that the contractor has stepped up to the plate and accepted his responsibility without a whole lot of threats from me. If the refinishing job turns out all right the contractor will get a stellar recommendation from me.kit8

The bad news is that I will have to alter my travel plans to accommodate the refinishing of the floor. I will still leave this Sunday and do my Forest Service Passport in Time project in New Mexico for a week but I will have to come home immediately afterwards. Once again I will have to cancel my trip to Canyon de Chelly which I had scheduled for the week of May 10th. This is the second time in 3 months that I’ve had to blow off a trip to Canyon de Chelly.

This will be the last post for at least a week as the location for the Forest Service gig is quite remote and there will be no internet connection. When I return I hope to have some fantastic stories to tell so keep tuned!

kit9 Thanks for visiting.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Update To Stormy Weather

The pictures to the previous post were taken at about 9:30 this morning. At about 10:30 things got a bit more interesting…..and it’s still coming down!!

storm3 storm4












I’m REALLY glad I decided not to go to Trinidad this morning!

Thanks for visiting.

Don’t Know Why There’s No Sun Up In The Sky…

storm2Stormy Weather” is the title of the song that uses the post title for it’s first line. Originally written in 1933 and performed by the great Ethel Waters, it’s been covered by a gazillion of singers since. Here’s a particularly good rendition by Lena Horne in 1943…Despite the title it’s really a love song that uses weather as a metaphor.

The song and lyrics stick in my mind for an interesting reason. In the early 1980’s I had a routine outpatient bit of surgery done under minimal local anesthesia. It was so minimal that I experienced a bit of discomfort. To help overcome the discomfort I concentrated on the music that was being piped into the doctor’s office. You got it, Stormy Weather! Since that experience, whenever I’m trying to divert my attention from something unpleasant I think of, hum or sing the song. I’m thinking of the song now but the unpleasantness I’m diverting my attention from is…..stormy weather, not love.storm1

Springtime in the Rockies has messed up my weekend adventure! The DOW project I was supposed to attend with The Bride this weekend was cancelled yesterday due to potential wet weather. The Bride and I decided that if the weather weren’t too bad we would go to Trinidad anyway and explore the town. Yesterday afternoon the system moved in with some pretty severe thunder storms. It would rain, thunder and lightning for a half hour or so, then clear up for an hour or so, then storm again. This morning we had some snow and heavy rain and the forecast had changed to the system not moving on until tomorrow afternoon and the mountains are expected to get 14”-28” of snow. Need I say more? The trip has been cancelled altogether.

My weekend was not messed up near as much as the weekend for Too Tall-Two Timing and K. See the comment about “thunder and lightning” above? Well the lightning part struck Too Tall and K’s house and caught the roof on fire. K was in the basement at the time. Too Tall is out of town on business. The Fire Department responded and put the fire out but not before an undetermined amount of damage was done to the roof and top floor of the house. There are at least three big holes in the roof…see my comment about heavy rain this morning.

The good news is that The Circle is here to help them as needed. Two Tall-Two Timing will be back in town today and the insurance adjusters will assess the damage today as well.

“Don’t know why there’s no sun up in the sky………”

Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Chatfield Camping & Bosque del Oso

Our Circle The Wagons campout with The Circle was a success. Nothing spectacular but a low key fun time. We all arrived Friday afternoon and after setting up camp, (see photo above) we all got together for libations and a grilled dinner.
Since I have not had the chance to use the grill that came with my trailer, I volunteered my grill as the official cooker. I must say that I wasn’t very impressed and am thinking that I may just go back to my portable Coleman grill for future trips. I do like the fact that the trailer grill taps into the onboard propane supply so I don’t have to worry about bringing…or keeping up with a separate fuel supply but overall it was a pain to set up and I don’t think it cooked very evenly.chat2
The highlight of the weekend, as far as I was concerned, was the Saturday afternoon/evening festivities. As I mentioned in a previous post, The Bride had already volunteered our trailer for the gathering spot since it was the biggest. She also volunteered to be the dinner hostess and provide the main course…made from scratch lasagna.
To get us all in the mood for Italian food we watched the movie, The Big Night before dinner. It’s a great movie that revolves around one terrific made from scratch, authentic as it comes, Italian dinner.
After watching the movie I think our guests had pretty high expectations for dinner and they weren’t disappointed. Maybe it wasn’t as fancy as the dinner in the movie but everyone enjoyed it.chat3 
Sunday was a lazy morning and we got together late for a group brunch before we tore down camp and headed home. This will be our last Circle The Wagons trip for a little over a month. In July we have already planned two events in the mountains. More on that later.
The Bride and I are feverishly trying to empty cabinets in preparation for the contractor to start installing granite countertops and a new backsplash in our kitchen.
I say feverishly because on Friday we’re headed to Trinidad Lake State Park, just west of Trinidad, CO and about 200 miles from here. That will be our base while we do volunteer work for the Colorado Division of Wildlife at the Bosque del Oso Wildlife Area. We will return late Sunday afternoon and finish up preparations for the contractor then.chat4
It should take the contractor about a week to do all the work and him done or not, I head out for a Forest Service gig a week from this Sunday. Busy, busy, busy….but more on that later too.
Thanks for visiting.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Another Passport In Time Project!

Passport in Time
I received an email today telling me that I was chosen for another Forest Service Passport In Time (PIT) project! This one is in South Dakota and involves restoration of an old gold mine and mill.  The project actually lasts for two weeks but I signed up for the week of June 21-25.
This will be my seventh PIT project and will be the furthest I’ve ever travelled to get to one. The project is located about 35 miles south west of Rapid City SD and it will take me two days to get to the project site.  I’m already looking at the calendar and trying to figure out if I can add several days to the trip so that I can take in some of the other attractions in the area.
There will be plenty of adventures this summer!
Here’s the official write up for the project.

Black Hills NF

Gold Mountain Mine & Mill Restoration Project, Phase II
June 14-18; 21-25
Must commit to one full session; may participate in both
Please join us in the beautiful high country of the Black Hills for the second year of the Gold Mountain Mine and Mill restoration! The mill served the historic Gold Mountain Mine during the "Gold Rush" of 1875, and is the last "living" ore-processing mill on the Black Hills National Forest. The structure is one of many that stood here during a prosperous period of the gold-mining industry in the region. The wood frame of the mill still retains many of its original features, including its ore crusher, ore shoots, and distribution gates. Today, little else remains beyond the mill and its associated features, and the area's history is quickly slipping away. However, in 2007, the Forest Service and local volunteers began to explore plans to restore and preserve this unique site. In June of 2009, the plans became action. Phase I of our project consisted of a detailed survey to fully record the site and its features and preliminary restoration of the mill frame. Additionally, volunteers removed overhead hazards and emptied an estimated 12 tons of ore and debris from the mill, and planning crews began efforts to interpret the site for visitors.
During Phase II, we will continue to restore the mill structure and develop means for the site's interpretation. Restoration will focus on the mill-frame structure. The surviving original components will be removed, treated, repaired, and replaced using power and hand tools, though we will also bring in heavier equipment, such as cranes and bobcat tractors. Simultaneously, those assigned to interpretive crews will do historic research, develop trail plans, and design signage and other displays. This area of the Black Hills offers many popular attractions and boasts some of the best scenery to be found, and early summer here features warm days and cool nights, perfect for enjoying yourself around a camp fire! So, whether you're back for year two or will join us for the first time, we look forward to seeing you in June!
Number of openings: 20 (10 per session)
Special skills: Participants must have an interest in learning! Construction, carpentry, woodworking, art, and/or research skills helpful, but not required
Minimum age: 18 years old
Facilities: Tent and RV camping at no charge at nearby FS campgrounds; drinking water, toilets, no hookups; private campgrounds available nearby; facilities vary with campgrounds and may or may not include pit toilets, water, and/or RV spaces/hookups; reservations recommended; Hill City, Custer, and Rapid City are full-service communities with hotels/motels, restaurants, and a full range of other amenities; volunteers responsible for personal camping equipment, food, and transportation
Nearest town: Hill City, 5 miles; Custer, 20 miles; Rapid City, 35 miles

In a couple of hours I’m off to Chatfield State Park for a Circle the Wagons get together. Check back in a couple of days for a report!
Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Spring Has Sprung…For Now



Ah, the sound of songbirds early in the morning. Buds on the trees. Daffodils breaking through the soil….These are all signs of Spring but nothing is more telling about the departure of Old Man Winter and the arrival of that sweet nymph of Spring than the relative position of my snow blower and lawn mower in the garage.

The picture in the upper left shows the lawn mower promoted to a position of prominence in the front of my garage whilst the snow blower is now relegated to a back corner along with the snow shovels. If that is not a sure sign of spring, I don’t know what is.

Oh, we may still get some snow but my experience is that anything we get now will either not stick to paved surfaces or if it does it will melt in a couple of hours. If I weren’t reasonably sure of this, the lawn mower would never have been moved to the front of the garage.

Speaking of the lawn mower, I have to give credit where credit is due. This piece of Sears/Craftsman machinery is about 16 years old now. Unlike children of the same age, it has never been to the lawn mower doctor. It hasn’t had an accident or been pulled over by the police. It’s appetite is downright bulimic. The only thing it consumes besides some of my time, is a tiny amount of gasoline and in those sixteen years, about one quart of oil! To top it all off, it responds to me without argument in no more that two pulls of the starter cord…..every time, for sixteen years. If children could only be like this lawn mower, the world would be a far better place!!!

Even though spring has sprung life is not all green grass and daffodils. There’s still some iffy weather to contend with and unfortunately we will have some of that this weekend, just in time to threaten The Circle’s first Circle The Wagons camping trip. From this weeks highs in the 70’s with brilliant skies, we will descend into the low 60’s with rain.

The good news is that the campground is just minutes from the house at Chatfield State Park. Too Tall-Two Timing, Guitar and myself, his-self, made reservations for camping over a month ago. We knew the weather could be iffy but we decided that if nothing else we would watch movies, have some great dinners and conversation and generally chill out.

Since my trailer is the largest, The Bride and I will host the main dinner on Saturday night. The Bride has chosen an Italian theme for the dinner and we may precede the dinner with a showing of one of my favorite movies, The Big Night. It’s a relatively unknown film but is a great story and contains wonderful Italian music from the 1950’s. It should certainly get us in the mood for some Italian food. Check back next week for a report on our adventure.

Here’s some other signs of the springing of Spring in my yard today…spring3 spring5








Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Winter’s Last Gasp?


This was the scene when I got up this morning. Another spring storm is blowing through the mountains and across the eastern plains. Just one last reminder from Mother Nature that she is in complete control and even though most everywhere else spring is in full bloom, only SHE will decide when we can put away the ski parkas and snow blowers!

win2 She has been teasing us over the last few weeks but as the weeks pass the teasing becomes more bearable. Three weeks ago we would have three or four days of winter weather with one or two nice days. The situation now is that we get three or four days of nice weather followed by one or two of not so nice.

This system will be long gone by this afternoon and by tomorrow there will be absolutely no trace of the snow you see in the pictures here. It’s a little different in the mountains however. They are getting anywhere from a foot to two feet of snow out of this…..and that’s the way it should be. That’s why God made mountains. They are supposed to get huge quantities of snow which equates to water for us down in the lower elevations. Colorado weather is a marvel. Look at the pictures above and then look at the prognostication for the rest of the week.win3

If you remember from an earlier post, during the last storm my snow blower self destructed and I had to order a very expensive piece of small plastic to get it back working again. Well I received the part and installed it and everything appears to be working fine. Even though this snow will be gone by this afternoon without any help from me, I think I will fire up the snow blower just to be sure is works. It would be a bummer next fall at the first big storm to find out that the snow blower isn’t working right!

On the household front, The Bride and I are preparing to have our kitchen upgraded with granite countertops. We have lived in this house for 14 years now and still have the original Formica countertops which we have never liked. We have spent the last six weeks or so looking at different materials for both the countertops and backsplash. The sheer number of possibilities is truly amazing but The Bride finally has found a combination that she likes and we will meet with the contractor tomorrow to finalize the project.

I’m currently refining some of my travel plans for next month. On my last trip to Arizona I had planned on visiting Canyon de Chelly (pronounce canyon de shay). The same Mother Nature I referred to in the beginning of this post had other ideas however, and I never made it. This destination has actually been on my “to do” list for several years but it’s pretty remote and the weather window for a pleasant trip is pretty narrow.

win4 During the first week of May I will be participating in a Passport in Time project just west of Taos, NM. That’s about half way to Canyon de Chelly from the Denver area. So, my current plan is that after the Passport in Time project I’ll continue south and west to Canyon de Chelly and spend two days there before heading back home. The weather should be perfect by then and the rest of the summer is already pretty well booked up with other adventures so I’m thinking this is a good plan.

Thanks for visiting.


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