Saturday, June 27, 2009

The GNC project part 4

Originally this weekend was reserved to take the coach to have the refrigerator repaired under a Dometic recall. Apparently on a rare instance the refrigerator in the coach was know to catch fire when a boiler tube cracked, so there is now a fix for that and our coach was included.

We were then going to take the coach to Stony Point on Leech Lake for the rest of a long weekend, but with the GNC project on our plate we thought we would be better off spending the time getting that done than laying around and relaxing. I guess there is truly no rest for the wicked.

First thing Friday morning we had to get the coach out of it parking spot at the lake and on the road.

Its a little over an hours drive to the repair facility and that passes quickly and we were there.


The repair is only a 45 minute job so while we browsed around all the new RVs they fixed the refrigerator and we were back on the road towards the lake again.


Margaret worries about details sometime, but after the coach is repaired and back on the road it appears that the “Fear is Gone” as she kicks back and enjoys the ride.


In no time the coach is back in its spot, lunch is finished and we are on our way to the lumber company for shingles to finish the GNC.

Back to the Lake an hour later and I’m up on the roof to make the GNC water tight. If you look closely you can see the shingles don’t quite match. Unfortunately GAF the manufacturer of our shingles on the shed doesn't make that exact color anymore and we had to make due with the closest thing there was.


Typically shingling take a while, but the roof is small and with the nailing gun I have the roof shingled by the end of the day. That's good because I hate shingling!

Early the next day we made a supply run to Bemidji’s Home Depot & Walmart there to get windows and other materials vital to the building process such as beer, wine and food. Once we were back it was time to start on the framing for the windows that were going into the GNC.


Framing always goes fast and soon its starting to look like the building it’s suppose to be.


The Walmart stop earlier in the day provided a great dinner, Margaret’s tendency to be a firebug along with the scrape wood from the building provided a great fire.

DSC02398 DSC02399

The next morning I started building windows for the peak of the shed and putting in the windows we had purchased for the side walls while Margaret stained. While not yet ready for prime time things are starting to come together on the inside


The next time we work on the GNC will be the 4th of July weekend and that should put us really close to complete

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The June River of Ice

We had a four day weekend coming up this weekend. Thursday night through Monday night we were going to the Lake. We left work at 4:00PM heading up Hwy 10 towards Northern Minnesota. We had a sandwich in the car and the radio on as we headed north. The radio mentioned that there may be thunderstorms near the Royalton and Rice area, but there was no tornado warnings so we headed onward.

As we looked forward on Hwy 10 it was growing dark, but it didn’t really look like it was raining. As we approached Rice it became clear why it didn't look like it was raining. Rain usually leave a streaky pattern in the sky when you look, unless of course its raining so hard that its a virtual wall of water, then there is no streaks in the sky.


Traffic slowed to a stop as people tried to see in the wall of water.


All at once the water turned to ice. It was hailing like I’d never seen before.


We made our way to the side of the road and a gas station in Rice just off Hwy 10. where I though we could get underneath the gas station canopy.


There were already plenty of cars sheltering under the canopy, but I managed to get half under the canopy in the front. Water was pouring down the parking lot carrying “A River of Ice”. In June!


Other than a couple of almost unnoticeable dings on the hood we survived without any damage. With another life adventure under our belts we moved on to the lake and the rest of the weekend.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The GNC Project Part 3

The deck is fixed in front of the old shed, the hot tub is safe in the garage now its time to put up a building for the hot tub. We took Friday off this week June 13th to have a long weekend to knock out a chunk of the “New Hot Tub Room” OK its not really just a hot tub room its an addition to the Great Northern Casita. Just to give you a before, here is the shed after it was completed years ago.

original shed

Here is the hand drawn paper vision for the new Great Northern Casita


Looks like we have a ways to go so lets get started. Here we are ready to roll Friday morning at 7:00 AM leaving for the Bemidji Home Depot.


After an hour in Home Depot gathering stuff.


With the ride home and a cup of tea completed we are ready to start digging and lay the foundation timbers.


As we progressed it rained a little on and off so up went the tarp to keep the water out of the working area.


As the new Gazebo addition raised up so did the tarp to protect from the sporadic rains showers


As the room progressed a strange man walked up from the lake. His boat was stalled and would not start down near the dock. He asked to borrow some tools. I gave him the tools and he spent a half hour or so working on the boat before he declared it a lost cause and gave up. I offered to tow him back to the dock, and he happily accepted. So I took a break and took the boat off the lift for the trip across the lake.

Back from the towing episode we had lunch and continued working on the building. We finished Friday night around 6:00PM with the post and beams up without a roof and ready to head back to Home Depot on Saturday morning for more materials.

This load of materials provided the wood for the roof and Saturday morning the roof started to rise up slowly.


Shortly after starting the roof our neighbor John showed up and his boat would not start and he needed a tow to the boat landing. So off I go for the second time in two days to tow a boat to the landing.

Working on the ladder makes thing slow down considerably and it took most of Saturday to finish the frame of the building. At 6:00PM Saturday evening the building frame topped out.

Steak and baked potatoes ( and lots of wine) were the fare for dinner Saturday night to celebrate the hard work.

Sunday morning at 8:00 the neighbors were thrilled as we were back out there hammering nails into the roof.


Since we weren't going to get it shingled today we decided to quit around noon and take a break, so I went all out to get it ready for shingles.


Its now ready for shingles next week and we are cleaned up and taking a break. Notice the Fat Tire in the hand of the guy leaning on the post.


Margaret moved in the chairs and we are setup to enjoy the new Gazebo for a while.


Next week shingles, walls, and windows.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The GNC Project Part 2

Off and on over the last several years Margaret has talked about getting a hot tub again and placing it at the lake. She has visions of a gazebo in the open spot just to the west of our shed. For one reason or another, we really never pursued this dream. I think mostly because we would have to build another outbuilding on the property and that might not look good, or there would be two small buildings then. Lately as we decided that we were going to spend more time at the lake in the future during the summer, this hot tub gazebo started to sound like a good idea.

In the past all of our hot tubs have been new purchases, and they all were purchased from the same dealer in Mankato.

Our Other Tubs

This time with the economic conditions as terrible as they have been it seemed like there might be some opportunities to get a good buy in the used hot tub market. Over the last few months I have been scouring the listings for used hot tubs. It seems like there are plenty of them for sale for one reason or another. The problem with most of them is that they are very large and usually 3-5 years old and aren’t in very good shape.

I did finally see one that looked like it might work, and called the seller to arrange a trip to view. The tub was on the way up to the lake so we stopped on a Friday night. They wanted $1000 for a 5 year old wooden tub. Upon inspection it didn’t appeared to be worth more than a couple of hundred dollars and it had no insulation at all. Not a good deal. Onward to other tubs or may be we should consider a new one?Weeks later I’m still looking at Craigslist and an interesting ad appears. “For Sale never used Bull Frog Hot Tub”. A call to the phone number reveals that a bankrupt spa dealer had given a warehouse full of hot tubs to a gentleman in payment for some debts. He had 5 of them and was asking 2,500 dollars a piece. A little internet research indicates that these are really nice hot tubs that retail for over $5,000. This might be interesting!

That night we went to look at the tubs in a warehouse in Brooklyn Park. The tub was a little larger than we had hoped for, but it was indeed brand new, never used and in original factory condition. Unfortunately no warranty was available without the dealer. This is starting to seem like a reasonable deal. Even if there is some yet to be determined equipment issues a $5,000 tub for half price I can afford to repair a few things myself. We offered him $2,300 and he accepted. Now if I can find a way to move this it looks like we have a hot tub!

The tub is large enough 6’ by 7’ that it will not fit on our trailer, so I’m going to have to find another trailer to move it. Google tells me that Broadway rental in Brooklyn Park rents trailers and a double wide snowmobile trailer goes for 32 dollars a day. A bargain! We are in business.

The morning of Tuesday June 9th Margaret and I are sitting outside Broadway rental at 7:00AM in the morning waiting for the gates to open and pick up the trailer. We have to be at the warehouse to pick up the tub at 7:30 just 3 miles down the road.

7:30 at the warehouse a crew picks up the tub and deposits it on the trailer!


We pull the trailer and tub to the side of the parking lot to secure it properly for the long ride to the North Woods. This is the part Margaret is worried about. She is petrified that we have a $2,000 tub on a trailer and are planning on driving up Hwy 10 at 65 miles and hour for 3 hours.


Strapped down and all ready to go. All we have to do is get up north and get it off the trailer in one piece. (Margaret is really worried about the one piece part.)


Just like I planned! No problems. We are now backing the tub down into our driveway somehow managing to survive unscathed the treacherous hwy 10 traffic to the north woods.


So far so good, now we just have to get a 600 pound hot tub off the trailer and into the garage.

A piece of cake! Right Margaret. How’s that fear doing now?

No water yet, but this is going to be good!


The only thing left is a place to put the tub! Let’s build something fun!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The GNC project Part 1

A year an a half ago I made the terrible mistake of trying a new deck stain on the deck in front of our shed. The stuff was awful and made a mess out of the deck. It was going to have to be fixed. I prolonged the agony and didn’t do anything about it last summer, but this summer it was going to have to be corrected.

Three choices existed.

1.) I could buy new decking, an expensive option, because the old deck boards are still quite serviceable, just stained an ugly color.

2.) I could sand the surface of the deck down to good wood. Having done this once before its not pretty and I prefer not to do it again.

3.) If lucky I can unscrew the deck boards and flip them over because the bottom isn’t stained. ( We will try this option first)

Success with screw gun. The boards all came off relatively undamaged, and in good shape.


Notice the nice hole under the corner of the shed that Margaret’s pet Wood Chuck dug. That will have to filled and fixed so he can’t get back under there.


Now while I’m at it we are going to modify the original deck just a little bit! The ramp on the end has to go and the deck needs to run one level all along the front of the shed.


A quick trip to town for a few additional boards to complete the structure.


Things are shaping up!


Almost complete


We just need to put a skirt around the deck so the hairy critter that’s digging under our shed can’t get in there anymore .


No construction project is ever complete around here without a special rock for Margaret having to be moved 3 times.


The base of the completed deck with varmint control skirt in place!


Take your victories no matter how small!

The GNC Project

Time for definitions here I think.

You might think that GNC is General Nutrition Company and you see them in every Mall between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, but you’d be wrong!

The GNC project really stands for the “Great Northern Casita”

Now you’re asking what is a Casita?

Webster's Dictionary tells us that a casita is:


/kəˈsitə; Sp. kɑˈsitɑ/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [kuh-see-tuh; Sp. kah-see-tah] Show IPA

–noun, plural -tas /-təz; Sp. -tɑs/ Show Spelled

a small crude dwelling forming part of a shantytown inhabited by Mexican laborers in the southwestern U.S.

a luxurious bungalow serving as private guest accommodations at a resort hotel, esp. in the southwestern U.S. or Mexico.

1920–25; < AmerSp, Sp, equiv. to cas(a) house, home (< L) + -ita dim. suffix Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2009.
Cite This Source

If you look up images of casitas in Google you’ll come up with:

If you had a nice motor home, and beautiful spot to park it on in the summer time, that was much like a private campground, with full hookups, a garage, storage, private dock, boat, and boatlift, that would be real living wouldn’t it? So far the only thing missing from this dream would be a Casita with a pool, a bar and a relaxing deck to enjoy the summer month on overlooking the lake.

A vision of that missing casita might be something like this:

Funny how this vision seriously resembles the shed we have at out lake place!


But our shed has a deck that is badly in need of repair, and there is certainly no porch over our deck or an enclosed hot tub on one side of our shed.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Great!! Stump Man vs The Dangerous Tree

This last weekend in May the plan was to take the trailer down to St James (the old home town) loaded with the desk that was being downsized from our apartment. While we were there a large tree that overhangs the old family home needed to be trimmed so it doesn't fall on the house, or the neighbors house.

We arrived at 7:00pm Friday night in the driveway with the trailer full of desk parts. It wasn’t long before the parts were reassembled in the newly remodeled front bedroom.


That put the old paperboard desk out of a job and on the street hoping for a new home.


The next morning was time to do battle with the dangerous tree that was threatening the safety of the old homestead.

Time to call the Great!! Stumpman! and his trusty sidekicks Neil and Margaret.

Here is the Great!! Stumpman at 8:00am in the morning getting ready to do battle with the dangerous tree. (the battle can’t start until 9:00am because we don’t want to disturb the neighbors too early in the morning)


The Stumpman flies high into the dark and dangerous foliage with the help of his trusty ladder, inspecting what and where to cut before starting the chainsaw.


A quick inspection revels that there are three main branches that need to be taken down to render the tree harmless for the surrounding buildings. The first branch the smallest of the three can simply be cut and fall to the ground. The other two branch threaten the houses and will require a rope to be tied to them and pulled away from the houses as they are cut so not fall on the buildings.

The Great!! Stumpman uses a thin piece of nylon cord thrown out too the end of the branch where it is lowered down to the ground. Then a thick heavy piece of towing rope is attached to it and hauled up into the tree using the thin cord and looped around the branch to be pulled then tied off.


The first sidekick Neil agrees that we are now ready to start the serious cutting work.


A couple of small branches fall to the ground clearing the way to get at the bigger ones.


The first of the 3 large branches is on the ground safely, just barely brushing the roof on it way to the ground. Stumpman breathes a sigh of relief. One down and two to go.


The heavy pulling rope is in place for the next big branch.


A break in the action as a neighbor approaches.


Before we attack the next big branch we load up most of the cut down branches into the trailer and truck for transport to the compost pile on the north side of town.


The unloading of the trimmed debris at the compost heap goes quickly and we make our way back eager to do battle with the large branch hanging over the house.

The fair maiden of the story appears concerned and fretful, not sure whether to be more worried about the safety of the tree trimming crew or whether the tree has been trimmed crooked.


All ready to go! the truck is hooked up to the rope and the Great!! Stumpman climbs the ladder as the crew looks on.


Two cuts are required to bring the limb down safely. One wedge cut to the front of the branch the direction you want it to fall, and then the final back cut. The truck has to pull the branch away from the house just as the last part of the final back cut is completed.

A couple of small detail also need to be attended to, like the branch not falling on the Stumpman or the truck or the plucky sidekick driving the truck doesn't hit the neighbors house with the truck.

Another dangerous branch is on the ground and hauled to the compost pile!

Two down and one to go.

One last branch that needs to be pull away from the house as it is cut. Same drill again don't kill the Stumpman and this time the truck drive has to avoid hitting another tree.

All is well. All the braches are safely at the compost heap.

Before and after pictures of the tree from the front:

From the back: No more overhanging the house.


As the sun sinks in the west, the Great!! Stumpman and his trusty sidekicks attack happy hour and a roast before flying off into the sunset for another adventure.

Video: by Margaret

Dinner, Happy Hour and worrying: by Mom

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