the evolution of our toilet facilities….

As a child growing up in Africa, my family and I spent many a vacation roughing it, while out on safari, with no bathroom facilities aside from the great out doors.  If not camping, we were traveling to other destinations in the third world where toilets were not quite the modern facilities we were accustomed to at home. As a result, I can pretty much use anything available to me when necessary, but I gotta tell you, I am completely thrilled to finally have a working, indoor toilet at the cabin!

And for your viewing pleasure, so that you can get the full effect…

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spraying the insulation

With the outside staining finally complete, we have now moved our attention to the inside of the cabin.  First on the agenda was to have insulation sprayed on all the outer walls of the second floor and any other areas that may be in need of protection against drafts.  After getting a few quotes, Dave ended up choosing to go with the team from Creative Conservation as they were reasonably priced and were completely upfront about what they thought we would need without over selling.  We were very happy with the choice and would definitely use them again should we ever need to.

The crew arrived to find the work sight covered in a giant bed of sticky red mud. It had been raining the evening before and on into the morning so, in an effort to prevent tracking the mud into the cabin, they laid down a path of plastic from the truck to the front door. A hose was then lain on top of the plastic path, and on into the cabin. Tanks inside the truck contained two different chemical solutions that were mixed together and then  transported through the hose and into guns that the men used to shoot the liquid insulation onto the walls. The solution, once it has left the gun, immediatly expands and begins to harden, creating a solid layer of insulation as well as an air tight seal.

  Our two pallets of tongue and groove arrived the same day and, thankfully, Todd Hawkes was on hand to pull them off the truck for us. The task of figuring out how much we will need to finish off all the walls in the cabin had been left to me…I’m a little nervous about that and really hope my calculations were correct because that’s alot of tongue and groove!  

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dave and the skyjack…


Outer first floor logs, dormers and deck rails all stained, we could no longer put off staining the upper portions of the cabin. After giving it much thought, Dave finally decided that the best way to tackle this daunting task was to rent a Skyjack lift with an articulating arm that would enable him to reach the higher areas of the cabin. We arranged for one to be delivered by Reliable Rentals in Dinwiddie over Memorial Day weekend and drove down early that Saturday to get started. Dave’s goal was to have the outside work done by the end of the weekend so that as the weather begins to get hotter, we can move our attentions to the inside. When we arrived Saturday morning, we found the lift had been delivered as promised and Dave went about trying to figure out how to use it. It all started out fairly well but, unfortunately, the day did not quite go as planned…




Because of the position of the septic tank, the Skyjack had to be driven farther out away from the house (so as not to crush the tanks), where the side of the property slopes downward. The newly regraded soil is still relatively soft here and as a result, as soon as the arm swung out far enough to reach the house, the right front wheel sunk into the loose dirt, throwing the vehicle off balance and left rear wheel began to raise off the ground, tipping the Skyjack to the right. (Ah-ha, that’s what all that extra beeping was about!) Once it’s off balance, Dave discovered, the wheels won’t move forward or backward and it took some effort to figure out how to rebalance the basket inorder to release the wheels so that he could drive it back up onto flat ground. After much frustration, Dave realized that there was no way he could get the vehicle base on a flat area close enough to the cabin that would enable him to lift the basket into a position that would allow him to stain that side of the cabin.  Much discouraged, he gave up, thinking we’d just thrown $900 down the drain and would have to hire someone else to finish the staining after all.

Unable to do the staining as planned, but not wanting the day to be a total waste, we moved inside and began to put up wall in the kitchen.

After finishing the kitchen wall, we called it a day and drove back home.

We returned Sunday morning, and, as Dave had reconsidered his decision to call someone else to finish the staining, he went ahead and gave the Skyjack another shot. I had suggested, the previous day, that he try driving it around to the other side of the cabin, via Colemans Lake Rd, and up the old road where the ground would be harder and more level. Apparently he had mulled the idea over the evening before and decided to give it a try.

It took awhile, and other than a brief stall in the middle of Colemans Lake Road where he caused a slight traffic hold up, he was able to successfully make it around to the back of the cabin and on to firmer ground.  (Yay, Dave, we believed in you all along!!!) And, thanks to the video feature on my new camera, I have it all on video. I’ve tried to cut it down to a reasonable viewing length…


Successfully making around to the other side of the property, Dave dons his Amish hat and goes about staining the cabin. Nice look Jebediah, but at least your neck and face won’t get burned I guess. 😛


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septic system… ✔ front porch and deck stained…✔

Slowly but surely we’re knocking things off the list.  We’re trying to get the outside buttoned up before the weather gets too stinkin’ hot so if we can get just a couple more weekend of spring weather before that happens, we’ll be happy.  We’ve been working on finishing the staining on the outside while Todd Hawkes has been working to get the septic system wrapped up so we can move forward with the inside.

Dave, Max and myself, have spent the past couple of weekends sanding, washing and staining the front porch and back deck. Unfortunately, we ran out of stain before completely finishing so will need to order a bit more before finishing with the deck and the staining of the log siding around the wall of windows in back.

Meanwhile, the septic system has been going in.  Heavy rains these past couple of weeks have slowed down the process but it should be completed this week!

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easter at the cabin….

After such crazy weather this spring, we were thrilled to have sunshine and 70 degree temps for Easter Sunday, which, of course, is perfect weather for hanging out at Colemans Lake with the fam! My eldest sister’s two kids, Maharlika and Zarek, as well as my middle sis’s twin girls, Emily and Erin, had all spent Saturday night with us.  Easter morning the kids all piled into Maharlika’s car, while Dave, Mom, the three pups and I, all loaded into the van and headed down to the cabin for a full day of fun.

We started the day with an Easter egg hunt, because, even though the “kids” range from age 13 to 20, you’re never too old for that, right? I had stuffed 92 plastic eggs with candy the night before, and, once we arrived at the cabin,  hid them randomly around the outside. (We forgot to recount the eggs once the kids were done to see if they’d found them all…. yep, still finding eggs there every time we’ve been down this week.)

Next on the agenda- we head over to the picnic area on Waffles Ridge for a cookout.

After lunch, it’s time for our annual deviled egg eating contest…

As Zarek struggles to keep down his thirteenth deviled eggs, we here a splash, followed by much giggling from the girls down on the dock. Uh oh. Surely someone’s phone didn’t just go in the lake?!

After the kids hung out on the dock for awhile, and Zarek’s wave of nausea passed, we pulled out the toys….

After a full day of fun we pack up and head for home. As we drive off, I think about the summer ahead and look forward to spending lazy days watching the kids hang out together, bonfires at night, waking up in the mornings and looking out at the lake ….

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replacing the siding and testing out the well…hooray, we now have water in the house!

Another eventful weekend at the cabin! Now that we have power coming in to the place, we were ready to test out the well, but never having had one before, we weren’t quite sure how it works. After a brief conversation with our trusty contractor, Todd Hawkes, we realized all we had to do was hook a hose to the small water tank in the basement and then flip a switch in the circuit box to turn on the pump to the well….lo and behold, it worked!

Next on the agenda was to finally tackle removing, and then replacing, the log siding along the right side of the great room window so that it lines up with the siding on the left. When the builders originally placed the siding, they ended up with a one + inch gap between two pieces on the right side and rather than fixing it, just cut a thin strip of siding to fill in the gap… unfortunately, we didn’t notice it till they were gone. Although we briefly considered leaving it, we knew it would always bug us if we didn’t go ahead and make it right. In order to correct the mistake, we figured out that if we just spaced out the siding pieces about an 1/8 of an inch more than they had been, it would make up the difference and line the two sides up properly. Thankfully, it all went as planned and, aside from the precariousness of having to work from the third level of  the very wobbly scaffolding (which was much higher than in looks on camera!) it worked out perfectly and now we can move on to finishing the stain on the outside.

Our other tasks of the day were to finish connecting bathroom the vent pipes, wiring the outlets in the basement and to begin sanding the deck rails.

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after months of all work, we finally get in a little play time as well!

Although we did spend the first part of the day Sunday working, we decided to break early to get in some ATV action, and then ended the beautiful spring day with a little fishing as well.

First on the day’s agenda was to put up scaffolding on the back deck. We have discovered that the log siding on either side of the great room windows does not match up and that the builders have put in a 1-2 inch strip between two of the siding pieces on the left in order to make up the difference. In order to make it look right, we’re now going to have to strip off the log siding on that side and replace it before we finish staining the outside. Our intent was to go ahead and tackle that project but after getting the scaffolding up, decided to put it off for another day and work on a few simpler projects instead.

Our dumpster was removed last week but we still have a ton of scrap wood to get rid of so decided to go ahead and build a fire in order to burn some of it. Max and I were put in charge of cutting down wood pallets and tending to the bonfire.

After starting the fire, Dave went to work drilling into the basement wall, under the front deck and through to the inside, in order to make openings for the bathroom vents.

Bathroom vents taken care of, Dave moves inside to do some framing in the laundry room.

These two tasks crossed off the list, it’s now time for our first trail ride of the year!

About an hour of sunlight left, we decide to get in a bit of fishing before packing up.

After a full day, we packed up and headed for home…

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it’s official, we have power!

In honor of this momentous occasion, a few words from the cast of The Electric Company:

we've got the power!

we’ve got the power!

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poles…we have electric poles!

Dave’s folks were down visiting from Pittsburgh this weekend. Fortunately, after a week of rain, it finally let up and they were able to go down to check things out at the cabin.

Two poles were placed by Southside Electric on our property this past week, one on either side of Colemans Lake Road, and lines run from the existing power pole to each of these. Power lines will be run from the second pole, underground and to the house, in the next week or so. We’re pretty excited about this because once we have power, we can start spending the night. Woo Hoo!

Shower pans were also placed this week…we’re getting there slowly but surely!


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ready for the rough in inspection at last!

After redoing about two thirds of the wiring ourselves (okay, by ourselves I mean Dave, with a tiny weeny bit of help from me), we finally were able to get an electrician in who was willing to complete the work. The main thing still needing to be done being to wire the meter box on the outside of the house, as this was one thing Dave has not done before and he was a little uncertain about doing himself. With that finally being taken care of, along with the rest of the rewiring, we were able to have our rough in inspection.

After looking over the framing, HVAC, plumbing and wiring, the inspectors had a few minor suggestions as to what we should change but gave us the thumbs up! One of the suggestions they had was either to replace our circuit box from a 30 panel to a 40 panel box or to add mini breakers to the current panel box in order to allow for more circuits should we need them in the future.  In the end we decided it was best to go ahead and replace the entire thing and put the larger one in. So much for all my work rewiring and organizing the incoming wires a few weeks ago.

The couple of hours we thought it would take to replace the panels ended up taking the entire day, but it was time well spent and we are now ready to have power brought into the house!

Meanwhile, Todd Hawkes has been busy taking care of several other things that still need to be done.  He had the propane tank delivered and brought over a few of his man sized Tonka Toys to bury it and to clean up the front of the house, which at this point was beginning to look like a junk yard. Next on his agenda is to have the septic system installed.

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