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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hot Stuff Part II


I don't have any particularly thrilling excuse for not blogging for such a long time... Holidays, snow, ice, the usual... But here we are again, and as promised in the last post, here is "Hot Stuff, Part II." For those who have actually visited 556 Cascade Bluffs, you know what I mean... the little extra building out back that gets really hot, really quickly! It is actually true: we have BOTH a hot tub AND a sauna!



Research is the basis for everything up at Cascade Bluffs -- well, research, and stubbornness, and we like what we like, and oh yeah, we have all these blue tiles in the basement already... But this time it really was true. We did research and so did our Wonder Contractor, Chris Norman, and we came to the same conclusion, that a Minnesota made sauna stove was the only one that would do. Here is an article about our stove manufacturer; you can't read it, so I'll tell you that the Lammpa stove (how's that for a good Finn name?) is rated the most efficient and cleanest burning wood furnace in the WORLD.


So, vell you know... One fine day ve drove to Tower, MN, vay up by Ely, all de vay out on Highvay One, you know...


Vell I can't keep that up for too long (thank goodness) so we'll just go back to our "indoor voice." In the mostly Finnish town of Tower, also known as one of the coldest spots on the planet (78 below one winter night not long ago, and the thermometer apparently proceeded to shatter...) we discovered a furnace factory, Lammpa Manufacturing, basically on a residential street in what appeared to be the back of someone's house... And there was our stove, waiting for us!


Mr. Lammpa himself! An extremely knowledgeable guy and very helpful.


Here we are in the back of the foundry, and Mr. Lammpa is about to weld our hot water reservoir onto the side of the stove...


Some guys loading the stove into the back of our truck...


There she sits in Dimples' back end... And the long winding, nauseating journey back on Hwy One from Tower and Ely to Hwy 61 along Superior and back to Grand Marais. A definite Minnesota adventure, picking up your own sauna stove!


Here is the beginning of the sauna. We decided to place it facing out toward the ridge, behind and to the east of the house...


There's that Mr. Holz again, working wonders with a giant yardstick... or maybe it's a divining rod...


What an excellent place to store your drill during lunch break!


The insulated floor going in...


...and walls going up... Notice the weather is getting a bit cooler, Stephen is now wearing a stocking cap...


Here's a view from the unfinished sauna back toward the house and garage...


One of my tasks was to find some interesting gnarly cedar branches and roots that could be used as door handles and such. Oh, darn, does that mean I have to go for another walk in the woods? Oh, rats...


Roof's on!


Inside, we stole an idea from some friends who have a sauna. This small glass inset nook sticks into the "hot" room from the "cool" room and is useful for placing candles or lamps for light inside the sauna. Works really great and is beautiful in the dark, too!


The outside door of the sauna building...


Detail of the door handle, "finished" with a penknife by yours, truly...


The outside door, now open to display another cedar branch door handle...


Here is Lammpa's smallest sauna stove in place in our "hot" room. The interior is lined with nice red cedar paneling and has two long benches, the usual sauna stuff like a wooden bucket and ladle for steam... but no birch branches! Not into THAT! [For those not versed in the minutia of Finnish sauna traditions, I refer you to the Wikipedia link on the right side of the page for full info. Here's the scoop on birch branches: "Occasionally one uses leafy, fragrant boughs of silver birch called vihta in West Finland and vasta in East Finland to gently beat oneself. This has a relaxing effect on the muscles and also helps in calming the effects of mosquito bites." Yeah, well not in December and January... ]

...a shot from inside the "hot" room back toward the door...

Chris found these two ship's portholes on Ebay! They are just amazing. They open by unscrewing the huge brass bolts and the window swings open for ventilation when the sauna gets a bit too toasty. We are really grateful for his creativity! (Wish we knew what ship they came from... that would be even cooler!)


Don't worry... it gets way hotter than this...



Here's a shot of the sauna building nearly done, except for a few finishing touches on the outside...


...and this is the view from the small deck just outside the front door of the sauna. Nice!


Of course, northern MN is nothing if not interesting. The big wind storm in October took down a cedar onto our sauna... no damage was done, amazingly enough. Our neighbors and friends the Boyds happened to come by to check things out and took this photo (and they cleared off the broken limb for us, too! Thanks so much, Jim and Jetty!)

There's that old saying, if you don't like the weather in Minnesota, just hang around for five minutes and it will change... And here's what the sauna looks like about now!



Someone has to clear the path...



Sorry, no photos from inside the sauna when it's nice and hot and the clothes are in a pile and the sweat is running. The camera doesn't work at that temperature anyway.

In case you've forgotten why we decided to build this crazy place in the middle of nowhere, here are a few pix to remind you why...

Morning winter light....


Moon, snow, trees, that gorgeous blue...



...and sunset over Cascade Mountain...

1 comment:

  1. That's right, I think one of the best ways to enjoy the Minnesota weather is to enjoy yourself in a sauna! Good thing that cedar tree didn't do some serious damage to it. Based from your pictures, looks like you guys had fun making your sauna and hot tub building into reality. Enjoy the warm, cozy times with your sauna, and don't forget the health benefits you can get from it too!

    iHealth Saunas

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