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Friday, January 22, 2010

Strawberry on Vanilla with a Chocolate Top

Just one image for tonight's post: this is from Chris, a shot from today, the cabin layered all around with the pink extruded polystyrene insulation, on a nice white layer of snow and with a perky chocolate brown cap! Ain't she cute?
We got some photos from our friend Susan and her husband Todd, but haven't had time to download them from their Shutterfly site. Hope to get to it soon..

Monday, January 18, 2010

Four Footed Neighbors

Late in the afternoon on Jan 10, we took our friends Jim and Jetty Boyd up for a peek at the new place. We didn't stay long, because outside, as you see, it was snowing, and our road is enough of a challenge when dry.

When we returned the next day we were rewarded by the sight of our access road across USFS land looking smooth and untouched... Pristine!

The sky was a spectacular shade of blue, the snow was brand-new and sparkling, and the trees were glowing... and we noticed that somebody had veered onto the road from the left...

I got out of the Jeep to investigate... My! What big paws you have!

A comparison view to my six and a half sized paw, looking a little frost-bitten...

Chris had pointed out this "landmark" the day before when we'd driven up to the cabin in his truck. This snowbank has been singled out for marking. And who, you might ask, would be marking territory in the north woods?

Wolves, of course. Turns out we not only share our little spot in the woods with broad-winged hawks, lots and lots of warblers, mosquitoes, black bears, mice, deer and moose (to name a few), there is also a well established pack of wolves that make their home in and around Cascade Bluff.

All we saw on Jan 11th was a long line of tracks. We followed his (or her) footprints all the way up the road, to within about 100 feet of our driveway.

Our objective on that gorgeous sunny day was to snow-shoe down from our cabin to Pike Lake Road, 3/4ths of a mile south. We succeeded and had a great time. Halfway down the slope we came upon an enormous boulder that we named Wolf Rock. This is the view from Wolf Rock of Cascade Mountain, the bluff just south and west of us.

Here is a view of our cabin from Wolf Rock... If you look right in the center of the photo you will see what looks like a little 'smiley face' that is the south-facing wall with our windows.

Everywhere we looked, we found ourselves following in the tracks of our neighbors. We made far too much noise for anything to show its head to us, but these had the deep claw marks of wolf prints at their bottoms. We also saw moose tracks, deer and hares.

We're thrilled and, quite honestly, grateful to share the space with such neighbors! We'll definitely let you all know if we see something other than these ethereal hints!

Inside Action

I am finally getting back to posting after a long hiatus! Keep watching, there will be a couple of posts coming in the next few days. Here is what we found on our most recent visit to Grand Marais on Jan 9, 10, 11 and 12th. This is the view from just outside our "back" door on floor one, looking south from underneath the timber-framed deck..
Inside our "cabin" lots has been happening! We have got walls -- sheet rock, awaiting color!

Both of these shots are on the first floor, where our bedroom and study will be,
as well as bath and utility area.

The stairs to the second floor are solidly in place...

Our contractor Chris and Stephen are using every inch of extra space to build us closets...

Upstairs, the kitchen is moving right along, looks mighty fine...

Kitchen ceiling with beams...

...detail of the textured plaster on the sheet rock, a product from American Clay...

Here is Chris showing us what our doorway trim will look like. The wood is salvaged from the same reclaimed Douglas Fir timbers that make up our timber frame. Tom Healy (timber frame guy) was able to mill off beautiful old growth wood from the sides of the timbers. We hope to use up every board-foot for interior trim, baseboards, cabinets and book shelves.

Here are Kathy and Chris, contemplating window sills and how they will be finished. The very thick walls of our SIPs (8.5 inches) make for extra deep window set backs. Chris has suggested sheet rock sill extensions with smooth, bullnosed corners and a wide wood sill of Doug Fir at the bottom. It will look pretty wonderful, we think.

Our loft space now has a floor! We can walk around up there (though have to be careful not to smack our heads on the timbers...)

This heavy duty iron washer and nut were salvaged from used timbers. They bolt the bottom of the loft stair landing to an iron rod that holds the entire assembly up.

Looking down from the loft onto the stair as it wraps around the wood stove. Notice the big iron rod-- it is bolted to the ceiling and holds up the corner of the loft stair landing. All this will be clear when you visit and can see this magnificent solution to a very tight space situation for yourselves, and appreciate that the stairway was thus quite a bit less steep than would have otherwise been necessary. Thanks again, Chris, from our fifty-plus year old knees...

In stacks up in the loft, waiting installation, is our recycled Doug Fir wood flooring for the great room and kitchen. This product comes from Duluth Timbers, the company that salvages old growth wood from all over the country. As you may recall, our timbers came from the City of Portland piers, from an old school in Seattle, and from a fish factory warehouse and pier in western Washington.

The view from the loft, looking south....

The larch wood ceiling as the stove pipe connects...

Chris is enthusiastic about using wood wisely, too. He make this beautiful newel
post for our loft stair from a battered hunk of scrap wood that supported the piles of
timbers while in transport from Montana!

Again, Chris and Stephen have found space for built-in storage for us. Here, behind the stove, will be a cubby for wood storage and more shelves...
...and on the other side, book shelves and a cabinet.
A nice warm fire helped keep the place toasty!

Looking at our garage, our PV panels are continuing to collect electrons. The construction crew has been powering all their power tools using our PV system, and they haven't had to recharge our batteries using a generator at all, despite snowy days and the short hours of winter sunlight.

So as you can see, we are really pleased with all the action going on up at Cascade Bluff!
Stay tuned for some spine-tingling shots showing evidence of some of our nearest neighbors
and their winter activity...