Sunday, July 31, 2016

All I own

As I was running errands today I saw various people moving. Ah, the end of the month. U-Haul's favorite day. Your pickup-owning friend's least favorite day.

I thought back to the times I've moved. The first time was when I went off to college. Everything fit in my VW. Clothes, bedding, toiletries, stereo, records, books. I didn't feel like I was doing without, like I was poor.

After living two years in dorms, I moved into an unfurnished off-campus apartment with a buddy. That meant acquiring beds, chairs, a table, shelves, cooking stuff, an ironing board... The trappings of adulthood. Most of which had to be disposed of when leaving college and then replaced when getting my first place out in the real world. Then continually upgraded and added to over the next 40 years until it was time to go back to pretty much what I had in college.

The excitement of leaving my house behind three years ago was very similar to the excitement of leaving home at eighteen. WOOOOO! Independence! Adventure! It's appropriate, then, that I've gone out similarly equipped.

Addendum: After writing this, I thought about when my father was living in an assisted living facility—the old folks home, as he called it. His room was only a little larger than my first dorm room. He had his clothing, bedding, toiletries, radio, TV and books. All the material goods he wanted or needed. A minimalist.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

This time last year

Fort Stevens State Park, Astoria, Oregon

More progress

The windows are installed on the first house and awaiting trim. The sliding door will require additional help to position. The subfloor for the second house (foreground) is ready for us to start the walls.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Music in the park

The population of Ridgway, Colorado, is less than a thousand. Yet the small town manages to put together an impressive free concert series each July. People come from all over to enjoy it. So do the performers. Last night's opening act, I Draw Slow, was from Ireland. The members of the main act, Jenny and the Mexicats, were from Mexico, Spain and England.

The audience was old farts, babies, young adults, moms & dads, teens, aging hippies, wealthy people, broke people, punks, ranchers, hipsters, fairy queens, blue collars, chefs, artists, dogs and at least a couple of full-time nomads temporarily in residence.

Ridgway also has Townie Tuesday Picture Show in the park. I haven't experienced that because the films, being family-friendly, aren't my thing. Besides, the movies don't start until dark. That puts it after my bedtime.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Now in color

The stain looks a lot better than the bare panels. I like the color. Next up, windows, door and trim.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

And hello to you, too


What did the framer's dog say?

Roof-roof! (Sorry for the bad joke.) Lou measured and cut, Joe and I hefted up sheets of OSB, and Forrest nailed it all down.

Lou inspects the work and declares it good. An actual building inspector might have other opinions. Or not.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Lou goes fishing

He didn't catch anything, which means there were no fish to be caught. This time.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

You might want to avoid Yellowstone if you have enemies

While researching a paper, Brian Kalt, a law professor at Michigan State University, discovered a potentially troubling jurisdictional quirk.

As a result of some sloppy Congressional maneuvering, there exists a 50-square-mile zone in Yellowstone National Park where someone could—hypothetically—commit a crime and get away with it. Including murder.
The article is an interesting read. Constitutional law, judicial districts, state boundaries, jury pools, prosecutors, state and federal legislators, poachers... 

All the while, Kalt has been worried that publishing his discovery might motivate someone to exploit the loophole. And now that I've brought it up, I cross my fingers that one of my criminally-inclined readers won't hatch a plan.

Relaxing pays off

I've been in Ridgway for three weeks. No wandering. No driving, except for some runs to Montrose, twenty-five miles away, for supplies. Or a couple of miles to the hot spring.

Of course, a parked vehicle burns no fuel, so I've used way less gas over those three weeks. Zero gallons per day most days. But my mileage when I am driving would be the same as usual, right?

Well, it wasn't.

The last time I filled up was 373 miles ago. I filled up again today. Twenty point five gallons. That's 18.2 miles per gallon. Hmmmm, excellent. I typically get around sixteen to seventeen miles per gallon.

No, I don't think going nowhere had anything to do with the better mileage. More likely it's that I've mellowed out. I've been driving slower, less aggressively, less in a rush to get to the next place calling my name.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Rafters up

All the framing is done on the first of the small dwellings. Lou and I will let Forrest climb around on the rafters to install the roof. He's young and heals much faster.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

That's better

About two weeks ago, out of nowhere, Facebook started looking like this on my phone:

Today, out also of nowhere, it was back to normal. (If there's anything normal about Facebook.)

I enjoy it when things fix themselves. I enjoy it even more when things don't need fixing in the first place.

Monday, July 18, 2016


Four walls up, three of them sheathed. Measuring and notching the rafters. Interrupted by rain. Taking a fishing break tomorrow.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Who could have known?

As you may recall from previous posts, I can find my stuff in the dark, and that the Rolling Steel Tent and I are "camped" in the alley behind my friend's shop. This sets up my story.

Late last night my blood sugar got low, so I reached into a cupboard and got some crackers. As I munched, I thought, "If a psychic had told me five years ago (before I started thinking about van dwelling) that I would be sitting in a plain white van parked in an alley, at midnight, eating crackers, in the dark, in my underwear, I would have laughed at the ridiculousness of the prediction."

Friday, July 15, 2016

Seen elsewhere

A wall is up

Framed, squared, sheathed, tilted up and made plumb. Not bad for a handful of amateurs.

The opposite wall is next. It has no windows or doors, and is shorter, so it will be quick and easy.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Guitar time

About a dozen people—babies to old farts—gathered at Forrest's shop for food, conversation and music.


Joe (the chef) and Doug

Lou, of course

Can't jam without dogs. It's a rule.

Old trucks

Bunch o' boards

Measuring, cutting, squaring, nailing, and lots of discussion between. And maybe some head scratching. The first wall is framed up. We'll sheath it and tilt it up in the morning, then do the opposite wall.

But tonight is dinner by a professional chef, and jamming in the garage for desert.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Sometimes it's like waiting for Christmas

My Social Security check drops on the second Wednesday of each month. That can be as early as the 8th or as late as the 14th. I was a little irresponsible with my money the past month, so I'll be happy for tomorrow.

There are some things I'd like to get. A replacement for my burned out cell booster. Maybe a directional antenna to go with it. I'd like some new bedding. I need more Peri-Wash. And I should really get new brake rotors since mine are kind of warped and they've already been machined once before.

I don't need to get it all at once, but it's handy to have things shipped directly to Forrest's place while I'm here rather than going through my mail forwarder. On the other hand, there's no rush on the cellular stuff since Forrest lets me use his wifi. But on the other other hand, Forrest is a mechanic and is willing to change the rotors in exchange for the construction work I'm helping with.

One way or another, I think I'll be placing an order or two tomorrow, then wait for Santa to arrive in the brown truck.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Jeep trek

Since Lou and I are new to the area, we had only a vague idea where Forrest would be taking us in his Jeep. Up into the mountains. On a four-wheel-drive road. Abandoned mines. Water falls. A pass. We'd be gone several hours. And it might be cold.

At Ouray (which the locals pronounce you-ray) we turned onto a nice unpaved road. "Piece of cake," I thought. As we climbed, the road got steeper, narrower and rougher. Then really steep, really narrow and much rougher. Then we passed a sign warning that from there on it was only for four-wheel-drive vehicles.

But Forrest is a pro at this stuff. Not only did I eventually feel at ease (only a couple of ass-puckering moments), I also gained a new appreciation for four drive wheels, good ground clearance and the magic of gear ratios. And I started feeling sorry for Lou being stuck in the back seat. It was his choice, though.

One of the more interesting water crossings

It was over a hundred degrees in places like Grand Junction. Not here.

You can tell who the younger, spryer one is

Then, finally, we reached Imogene Pass. 13,114 feet. The highest in the San Juan range. The second highest in Colorado. Red Mountain Pass, on the Million Dollar Highway, which freaks out a lot of people, was below us. Neener neener neener.

Red Mountain Pass is the grayish triangle in the lower left

Shortly after taking this photo, we saw three bighorn sheep

On the way back, we stopped for lunch and some exploring at one of the abandoned mines.

Forrest says there are lots of other places we can go. I say, "Excellent."

We have lumber

There's going to be some serious cutting and nailing tomorrow. But today we're going to hop in a Jeep and head up into the mountains. Forrest will drive, Lou has made sandwiches, and I'm in charge of photography.

Friday, July 8, 2016


Plywood, two-by-fours, one-by-twos, tin ducts, ABS pipes, copper pipes, insulation, fiberboard and steel I-beams. The trick was finding that one last thing that was stubbornly holding the halves together. And then being able to reach it with a reciprocating saw. And a pry bar. And some swearing.

Oh yeah, slick

But, ooooo, a brand new tool

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Measure twice, weld once

Forrest bought a dilapidated single-wide trailer home with a decent chassis to use as the base of the cabins he's building. (A friend who does demolition tore off everything above floor level.) He could build the cabins at his place and buyers could have them hauled to their property. The frame is long enough to make to make three cabins. He has already used the first third for the cabin in the background. This morning, Lou and I helped him relocate the tandem axles on the remaining two thirds.

The remaining two thirds

Getting ready to position an axle

Hurray for welders!

Tack that sucker then weld it up good

Up next: cutting the the remaining trailer in half.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Lurking in the alley

I had a choice of several spots to "camp" at Forrest's place. He suggested the alley between his shop and the nursery next door. "You'll get good shade from the sun. It will be cooler."

"But my solar panel wouldn't be happy."

"Do you have a battery charger?"


"Well, there's an outlet right there."

"In that case, I'll give it a try."

So far, so good.