Sunday, August 20, 2017

Roof! Roof!

No rest for the wicked. I got off the river and had a couple days to put away the dory and get ready for the next mad push: All new roof on the house. 2000 square feet of it. Before last trip Janek and I built a high landing zone with stairs to access it. Beefy, strong, regulation stairs so my old legs could get up and down.

But before we began the roof, we had to celebrate. Big music and a bit of rain.

And a rainbow.

The materials all arrived first thing Monday morning. Ed at HomCo totally dialed it in the order, and the fork lift driver was open to creativity in unloading it in extremely tight quarters. Then I checked in on the crane. Turns out I had it scheduled ten days hence. Simple typo, but damn. Fortunately the crane guys, Craig and Benny, made it happen anyhow. Again, being creative in tight quarters. The crane looks like a giant bug.

It took a lot of jacking around to get the crane level, but that's what Benny does for a living.

At a little under a ton per hoist, it's pretty exciting--exciting to see if it works and if our platform holds, and exciting to think about not carrying all that up the hill. Especially 1400 pounds of 20'+ sheets of steel.

It takes a few cigarettes to make it work.

Boom. Done. All the materials 40' in the air at 7 cents a pound. That's a bargain.

And with it only being 2:00, Janek and I decided to start. Where are the nail guns?
Long pause.
They were right here last night.
Ummm. I think we just had our first theft in over thirty-five years of not locking things up.  Bummer.
A few calls to the police and the local pawn shops.
Then Janek recalls seeing a pile of tools about a block down the hill early that morning. We walk down. There are the nail guns and a few other tools I hadn't missed yet. And a satchel of old clothing. Not sure what it meant, but whatever went on got aborted due to alcohol, fights or perhaps a random cop car driving by. We know not. But I got all my tools back.

And we lit into the roof. Unscrew the old steel. Tear off the fragile old wrecked tarpaper. Janek says he thinks Egyptian mummies are in better shape.

Stir up the old cellulose insulation. Add 3-1/2" of new fiberglass. And nail down the OSB (Oriented Strand Board). Stinky shit made of wood chips and smelly glue.

Tuesday, Day Two. Lora's nephews come for a day, as does my old pal Coop. And Janek's brother Ché signs on for the rest of the project.

Don't back up, Coop. It's a 40' drop to those trucks down there.

 By nightfall, day two, roof one is re-sealed. Time for a beer or three.

Day Three. Janek, Ché, and I are the crew now. We build a staircase to access the high roof.

By nightfall we get most of the way through the upper roof.

Day Four. We've been running from the sun for a few days, trying to work on the side of the house with the least direct exposure. With limited success. Janek said in the years he has known me he has only seen me drink water about four times and they were all this week. Christ it's hot up there. Steel on the upper roof. Done at dark.

Day Five. Stairs removed from lower roof. Lower roof on. As well as the two porch roofs out back.

Day Six. Man are we tired, but we finish all the trim by early afternoon. I am shy a few trim pieces and a few hundred screws, but that's a half-day's work later on. For now, it's time to sit back and be amazed and exhausted. I thought I was being overly optimistic in thinking I could get this done in two weeks. We did it in one. Thanks to an absolutely ass-kick crew.

And today? It's Day Seven. We are so done. And it's raining! The six-day dry spell in the middle of monsoon season ended. Wow.

Sunset(s) on the Colorado

I must say, someone made some serious adjustments to Grand Canyon's weather since I left for Maine--all of them good. The temperatures are down a good thirty degrees, and the magnificent summer monsoons are here. On the way to Lee's Ferry:

Night Zero, at Lee's. It's always a good time. Just crew, no car to drive to the restaurant. Just us, the river, and the cliffs.

And what may be the most ridiculous sunset I've ever seen. No, I didn't crank up the magenta values on this.

Bruce, who I built this grand oversized Briggs dory for, really wanted me to try it out with a full commercial load. So here we go. This is Bob. Bob is set up for 11' oars, but unfortunately my shoulders are nowadays only set up for 10'6". Fortunately I was able to borrow Lora's 10'6" oars that we tuned for her over the winter.

 Anchored out at Little Redwall. The sunset nonsense continues.

Lora fiddles while the raviolis burn. (No, they didn't burn. Just trying to be clever.)

Tired of sunsets yet? Me neither.

OMG. Wave #5 in Hermit full-on went nuclear under Bob and I. We landed in the left eddy, missing the entire lower half of the rapid. But it was worth it.

Lunch up in Shinumo Creek.

Tom soaking it in at Blacktail.

Lora's nephews, Daniel on the violin, Justin appreciating.

Astrid, the world's most fabulous Danish doctor cook partner.

Oh--and then the sun set again.

Astrid is mastering the double Dutch oven bake.

Galloway Canyon feeling a bit urpy.

Olo Canyon in the morning light.

Havasu harbor--the view from Bob.

Local loiterer.

Tessa competing in the Oreo races.

The best dinner ever: Chile relleno casserole

And another sunset.

Beyond Maine

The day after boatbuilding class I scooted northwest a few hours and met up with Mike Bridges and Jonathan Kranzley from last year's class. Jonathan brought Made in the Shade, one of the McKenzie boats we built last year. Mike brought Washita, a Briggs-style dory he built several years ago, We launched them at the hellacious put-in below Harris Station Dam on Maine's Kennebec River. After a series of great honkings and warnings, the daily release came up to a boatable level and off we went. It's a mighty busy river. Here are Jonathan and Mazie in Made in the Shade.

And Mike rowing himself and me in the Washita.

Happy boatmen. Mike's friend Billy, a veteran Kennebec guide pointed across the river and said if we walked that way about 1500 miles we'd get to Hudson's Bay without ever seeing a settlement.

The next day I drove east--as far east as you can get in the USA--West Quoddy Head lighthouse.

And then I kept going, taking the ferry into L'tete, New Brunswick.

L'etete is tiny, but is the home of my good friend, mentor, and boatbuilder Harry Bryan and his wife Martha. They live off the grid in a magnificent homebuilt palace on the waterfront. 

The fuzzy landform in the distance is Maine.

The shop:

Harry is a renown toolmaker. This is one wall of his shop.

His main concession to power tools is the huge, ancient, belt-driven, wooden-wheeled bandsaw, which until recently was run by an old Vauxhall truck motor under the shop.

The power unit for his sawmill is another old truck, with the transmission, gearbox, and dashboard still intact.

His boatshop is at high tide. 

After many decades off the grid with no running water, Harry and Martha are thinking that someday they may get old and want plumbing. So they are in the process of building an addition with more modern conveniences. Just in case.

I had the honor of joining the crew for a day and a half.

Harry and his longtime coworker Wyatt.

I wish I had scheduled more time, but I had to head back across Maine.

I stopped in to meet Steve Holt, who runs the venerable Shaw & Tenney oarmarking firm in Orono, Maine--probably the last and best oarmaker still in business.

We are working on an oar made for Grand Canyon. Keep in touch.

Then on to Tamworth, New Hampshire to visit my old pal Lora. She just completed a remarkable rebuild of her ancient family barn--the back half now serving as her home and studio.

I gave her a hand for a day or two building cabinetry for her shop.

Our Flagstaff friend John Tveten showed up and we took family friend PapaJohn's fabulous little Rushton-style canoe out for a spin on Lake Chocorua.

Then John and I headed back to WoodenBoat School for a week of more advanced sailing instruction. Here's my headquarters.

The wind was a bit light and the air a bit foggy much of the week, but we still learned a tremendous amount.

John skippering Shimmer--a Herreshoff Biscayne Bay. 


John in Rascal--a gunning dory similar to Stella, the dory we built for him last year here in Flagstaff. We are researching some of the finer points of Rascal's rig to incorporate them into Stella, who we hope to have under sail by this fall.

My friend Jane showed up again, this time teaching in the schooner Mary Day. I wish I had my camera handy when Mary Day burst out of the fog under full sail. Amazing.

Jane gave me a full tour of the schooner--perhaps trying to trick me into signing on for next year's course. It didn't work, simply because I had already decided I was taking next year's course prior to the tour.

Sunset from the Mary Day.

And a farewell toast to the McKenzie from this year's class, awaiting shipping to Colorado.

The morning after class John and I headed west down the coast to Friendship, Maine to rendezvous once again with Lora and our good friend Wendy. We went out to Lora's family place on Friendship Long Island and put our lovely dory Ruby in the water for a bit of rowing. We built Ruby eight years ago and she is holding up remarkably well in her forested haul-out from year to year. She stays out of the rain, but never leaves the sea-breeze, so she neither rots nor dries out and cracks.

Ruby's oars and seats are from the original rotted-out Let Simmons dory that we copied the design from.

A picnic on Morse Island.

And a sunset from Ruby. It never fails.

But all good things must give way to more good things. The only part of the adventure that did not go quite according to plan was when I took this last picture. Phoenix Airport was closed due to monsoon storms. We got diverted to Las Vegas. This is sunset over Grand Canyon in case you can't tell.

By the time we finally got to Phoenix, all flights to Flagstaff were gone. So I had to spend the night in Phoenix, which is similar to Hell. But really, other than that, damn. What a month.