Saturday, 29 October 2011

Maui first days

After a typically long and uneventful trip we are ensconced once again in paradise. Yesterday was grocery/supplies day, so today was the first day to hang on the beach, our main activity here.
My home away from home for the next month
Our first snorkeling swim was a good one, with 7 turtles, 1 eel and an octopus to watch. I'd show you the photos, but...

As I wrote in this post, last year Karen bought me the Kodak Playsport waterproof camera, which leaked the third time I used it. I sent it back to Kodak after getting home, they allegedly fixed it and sent it back. I hated the thing so much I haven't used it since. I took it swimming today, took 2 pictures and it died. Why? It leaked. Again. But not just a bit. It was FULL of water this time.
Water fills the display
When I got out of the water and opened the two doors, water poured out. The battery is now shot. Which is fine, because when I got home, I threw the thing away. It's a piece of junk, and has been since the day Karen bought it for me.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Finishing the projects

We're off to Maui in a matter of days, and so our projects are coming to a close. Sadly, we will be a week short of being able to move into our new house, but it's getting so close we can taste it.

We finished building and hanging gates for the fence.
Yours truly building the gates
One built and hung, one waiting for a hangin'
Both hung, and both as straight as pumpkins...
...but with the boards hung, you can't tell how crooked things are
We are now totally finished the shed. Knowing we had squirrels living in my attic, we knew they would take up residence under the shed. Well, either them or Pine Martins. Or skunks. Or a bobcat. Or any one of the many other critters who live here (we keep finding coyote poop in our front yard). Accordingly, we had to seal the underside with wire fencing, which as to be sunk 6-10" into the ground.
Fencing installed
Finished. Totally.
The painting has progressed as far as it can. We initiated the construction of a closet last week that won't be built for a week or so, plus we found some cruddy wallboard that needed fixing. After those two projects are done, then the painting can finish. We have ordered the hardwood bits to fix the floor, and the tile for the front entryway. Today we finished selecting lights and ordered all of them; they should also arrive while we're gone.

So with luck, we will come back to a house we can live in. That only took 3½ months to get ready.

Welcome to Canmore time.

Festival of Eagles and Birds of Prey

A few weeks back, Canmore held it's annual Festival of Eagles. A lot of golden eagles migrate right past town, though they are up 4,000' in the air when they do so. However, if you know what you're looking for and have a good set of binoculars or a spotting scope, you can see them. At the downtown event, they had spotting scopes set up and we saw 4 in the space of a half hour; later that day I saw 3 more. On the peak day so far this year (about 2 weeks ago), they saw 553 at an official observation station not far from here. So far, some 2,400 have been sighted during this migration. I got no photos of them because they are mere pinpricks in the sky.

But the Alberta Birds of Prey Foundation always comes to the festival giving you an opportunity to get up close and personal with golden eagles and other raptors, all of whom are injured in some way and not releasable back to the wild.
Spirit, the blind golden eagle
Burrowing Owl 
Kes, the American Kestral
A barn owl
There's nothing wrong with the barn owl, but they're not native here, so his release isn't permitted.

At the Festival, we (and 78 others!) had an opportunity to go on a birding walk with Ben Gadd, who is a truly wonderful person and an exceptionally knowledgeable naturalist. We are the proud owners of several of his books, which he was kind enough to autograph for us. There weren't a lot of regular birds out, but we did see the rare Humanbird flying over town.
A paraglider coming in for a landing
The paragliders launch off Mt. Lady MacDondald where we hiked last week.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Late season hiking on Mt. Lady Macdonald

We have been frantically working to get outside chores done before the snow flies and we head to Maui. Accordingly, we have not had a chance to get out hiking for almost 3 weeks, so today, given the nice weather forecast, we decided to get up a mountain.

Mt. Lady Macdonald towers over Canmore on the north-east side of the valley. About a decade ago, someone built a teahouse and a helipad near the top with the hope of starting a business, but alas, the folks of Canmore didn't want a slew of helicopters flying up and down so the venture failed, leaving a bunch of parts on the mountain. Like a fire lookout, these things become magnets for hikers, and the trail up Lady Mac is very popular.

You start up the Cougar Creek and get a foreshortened view of the goal.
Straight up to the top
The trail basically grinds relentlessly upwards, but on the bright side, offers better and better views as you ascend.
Canmore below. Hal Ling across the valley
It's an interesting trail. At one point, it weaves through a boulder field.
KC weaves through the rocks
Suddenly you break out to stunning views up the valley.
The full length of Mt. Rundle
From this point, you can also see up the mountain to the peak and the destination.
The teahouse is on the bench in the centre ahead
Not far past this you get your first actual view of the structure.
The teahouse in advance disrepair
KC's final steps up
The patio on the roof
The gazebo below the teahouse
The views from this place are stunning. The coolest part of all is that we could see both of our houses.
Dead Man's Flats
Harvie Heights, in the trees on the lower left, this side of the highway
It was a pretty good wildlife day, with lots of birds. We saw chickadees and nuthatches, got dive bombed by a flock of waxwings, and saw a Townsend's Solitaire.
We saw him on the way up and he was still there on the way down
We saw plenty of squirrels and chipmunks...
Cheeks not full, for a change
...and although they would no pose for photos, we saw two pikas, which made my day.

Mt. Lady Mac is a better trail than Ha Ling, a trail I would never do again. Lady Mac's trail is more interesting, and while it's a bit longer, it seems less strenuous to get to a very similar view of the Bow Valley. I'd do this one again.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Shed done, and other reno updates

Two more days finished the shed, for a total of 8 days from when we started to work on the foundations. It took all Tuesday day to do the shingling...
Art shot
Crawling around and nailing between my legs
...and most Wednesday day to make the doors and door frames.
The finished product
They gave us just short of EXACTLY enough shingles to do the roof. After using all they gave me, I would have liked to have another course across the top, we threw away exactly 2 pieces, an 8" (that got wrecked) and a 4", and we were forced to use a 4" piece (which you're not supposed to do). It sprinkled rain on us right near the end but we got it done.

The doors fit much better than I thought they would and were a lot easier to hang, too.

We made a bunch of mistakes but despite this, it still looks OK and is very functional. It did take much more time and work than we thought, and probably would have been overall easier to build with 3 people than 2, but we got it done. Next job is to hang gates for the fence between the shed and the fence.

Our painters continue to plug along. Yesterday, they unearthed some rotten wallboard from what is obviously a leak in the ceiling (though how recent the leak is, is unclear). Looks like we will have to pull that section of roof apart and fix it when we reno the kitchen next year.

We also concluded that the "right" thing to do in our bedroom is to build a proper closet, rather than to put up wardrobes as I mentioned in this post from some 7 weeks ago. So we'll see if we can get that kicked off tomorrow.

We also finally met with a lighting guy. He told us it's almost impossible for us to have lights installed by the time we head to Maui, and so our thoughts of moving in officially by then are now officially dead and gone by the wayside. Accordingly, we remain residents of Dead Man's Flats until December.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Two more days of shed building

I actually thought that building the shed would take 2-3 days after the foundations were ready. Now, "days" in my world start at 10 AM and usually end at 5-ish (in part because it's only about 4° at 10 AM, and about zero at 8 AM), but still, I thought it wouldn't take that much time for actual construction.

Yesterday, we started putting on the exterior cladding. First comes the back wall...
Just the back wall
...then the front wall, which goes up as a sheet...
Why not build a cube instead of a gable roof? Hmmmn...
...from which the door and roofline are cut out.
Carefully peering from up high
Next comes the walls. Since we're building an 8 x 10 shed, the walls are made of 4 pieces.
One panel 
It was right around here that we found out that the shed was really not square, and really not straight. We had 4 x 8 side panels that wouldn't fit on the studs without being at an angle. But we worked at it a bit and took some liberties, and got them up.
2 Panels 
The exterior cladding is up
But things really started going south when we put the first roof panel on, which was the last thing we did yesterday.
The roof starts
If we lined up the roof with the end of the end truss, it wouldn't overlap the roof joist 8' away. If we canted it so it was straight and true according to the trusses, it overhung the eave on one end by 3". So today we jigged and jagged, wiggled and futzed with it, and got all the roof on. But we ended up with a huge gap in the middle because we couldn't make the roof panels meet while getting everything else lined up with the trusses. We also had a 2" gap on one side we haven't figured out how to fix.
Guess we got some fillin' to do
Next went up the soffits...
One side
...then the first of the fascia boards.
Front & right side fascia on. Subfacia 2x4 on the left
So after 3 days, we have just finished Step 7 of the instructions. There are 11 steps. The want us to put on corner protection next, but the weather forecast says it's supposed to rain starting tomorrow night, so we have to get the shingles on next.
End of Day 3 
From the back yard
Here's hoping the rain holds off until we can shingle. And that we can fill the gaps in the roof. Somehow.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Project Shed continues

The shed (or more precisely, a pile of lumber and some instructions) was delivered late Thursday morning in the pouring rain. By the time we got it all into the garage, most of the wood we needed to paint was soaking wet, and it took a couple of hours to dry. Accordingly, we could get very little painted Thursday. In fact, all we got accomplished was painting 4 of the 8 sheets that will clad the exterior, on the one side that needed painting.
4 lonely sheets
Friday, we spent the better part of 6 hours painting in bursts of 45 minutes with 20 minute breaks for drying time, glad to be in garage away from the rain and at least partially warm. Our inventory:

  • The other four 4x8 exterior sheets, one side
  • Both sides of nineteen 8' 1x3's that are trim and door bits
  • Both sides of four 6' 1x6's that are for the front and back soffits
  • Both sides of two 12' 1x6's that are the side soffits

Most of the boards
It dawned sub zero this morning and very foggy, but the sun burned the fog off by 10:30. The rain that fell down for two solid days low fell as snow "up high", making the mountains now very white. "Up high" is only about 600 m above the valley level, and word has it that there was over 50 cm of accumulation above 2,000 m.
Ship's Prow from the West Wing first thing Saturday 
The Three Sisters at 6 PM 
Mt Collembola at 6 PM
We were only able to start construction at 11. Yes, we made more than a few mistakes, had to pull a few nails, invent a few instructions, and had to recut some things, so we were slower than people who know what they were doing would take. But we got all the framing done.
The first 3 frames up 
Yours truly, Carpenter Dude 
Framing done
Tomorrow comes the exterior cladding, and I suspect we won't have the whole thing finished until Monday. Maybe even later than that.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

A story of sheds

We're still stuck with little to do as the painters continue to plug away and we can't move more stuff in. But our annual trip to Maui is looming, as is winter. Looking at the garage the other day, we came to the conclusion that until we build the shed we knew we needed, no car could park in the garage. The shed had to be built before we head to Maui, as it will be serious winter when we get back. We needed the shed now. So we initiated yet another project: "The Shed."

We went first on Monday to the lumber yards in town. There's two. One doesn't do shed packages, and I'm just not "handy" enough to do it without a package (though someone should tell their web site dude and catalog maker, because both say they do sell shed packages). The other didn't have any in stock, nor did they know the price. This morning we called, and after 2 days, they still didn't have a price, but they did know it would be at least 2 weeks before we could get one delivered. That's bad timing, as we're gone in just over 3 weeks, and we have to have the thing built before we leave. Did I mention that we have nothing to do now?

Instead we called my favourite lumber yard in Calgary. Yes, they have shed packages (actually, a pile of lumber and an instruction book). Yes, they are in stock (because it's a pile of lumber; nothing is pre-built). And aside from a high delivery charge, could deliver it tomorrow (when it's supposed to rain here). Obviously these guys do not work on Canmore time.

This afternoon we started assembling the skid foundation system, which isn't much: six flagstones and two 4x4s. But you gotta get them level, and the space we chose is very slightly not level. So some had to be fully sunk into the ground, some get to sit on the ground, and a few are in between.
Right side nearly done; left side still to do
The shed has to be painted before the winter. Our painters tell us outdoor painting is basically over for the year, as our lows are getting down to 0° these days (it's snowing as I type this on the mountains about 600 m above me, but raining down here in the valley). We're going to try to paint the thing in the garage Thursday and Friday where we can keep it warm enough, then build on the weekend when it's supposed to be sunny.