Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Long Way Home-Part 1

This past weekend we went up to prepare for carpeting upstairs. Chores included bringing down the old carpet, removing anything small enough or light enough to carry downstairs, a quick sweep and getting underlayment for the floor. We decided to put a little extra down now rather than later to cover the floor seams and give a smoother surface for the carpet. After cleaning up it kind of looked like we were starting all over again. Once we accomplished these tasks we decided we would take a road less traveled toward home. We have been talking about going the "back" way for a while, on the roads we see parallel the main highway, and it was a wonderfully warm day, so we set the GPS to "Home" and "Least use of Highways" to see which way it would direct us.

We started down the road, and it was warm, and a bit buggy. Although you could not really see them, the casualties started appearing on the windshield. We ended up on Route 5, which paralleled the Connecticut River, the NH/VT border, and the main railroad tracks running north/south. We drove through a small town named Passumpsic, scene of a mid winter rollover by yours truly, and home to a railroad graveyard. A spur came from the main rail line, and into a yard, which had 2 more sets of tracks, which appeared to dead end on the property. Each set of tracks in the yard had numerous rail cars, including different engine, caboose, flatbed, and box cars, plus a few oddities such as a crane and plow car.
The engines were of various shapes and sizes, but all were in the state of disrepair. The engine pictured below seems to be missing half of the engine compartment for the conductor. Also look at the caboose in the background, it is pretty dilapidated as well.
There was even an old time water tower for the steam locomotive on a flat bed car.
Continuing south through Barnet, the road kind of meanders and as we rounded one particular corner all you could here was the thunderous echo of rushing water, and so we stopped to get a couple of shots of the water cascading over the rocks and down the small gorge which two roads crossed.

As we drove further south, we criss-crossed the railroad, the river and boundaries of each state, alternately in NH and VT, until we came to McIndoe Falls, which put you right on the dam and the water. These pictures were actually take from the NH side of the river. There was also a portage trail for people with canoes to bypass the dam.

Driving towards home we passed through Ryegate, Wells River, Bradford, and a few other towns. I think it was in Bradford, we passed through town just as church was beginning, and everyone was parked on the street. I could just picture 100 years ago, or maybe a little more, when the wagons and horses would be hitched out front. We also drove by this very small park next to a nice waterfall. Still a lot of spring melt going on. We stopped real quick for a pit stop, to clean the windshield, and drove on past Lake Fairlee, and kind of Lake Morey, but drove around Lake Fairlee. Looks like a beautiful place for sure. Finally I looked at the watch and GPS, and noticed we had gone only 60 miles or so in 2 hours, so we decided that was enough for this trip, and set it back to "fastest route" got back on the highway, and after another stop to clean the bugs off made it home late as the sun was setting. Hopefully next time we will continue the drive from where we left off and explore more of the back roads of Vermont.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Back on the Road Gang

Does everybody know what time it is? Tool Time! That's right its time to pick up those tools and rake, shovel, dig, and pry. And what would you need to perform these various tasks on? Why the yard of course! One of the things that we discovered in the whole process of building, is to make sure you are clear on what work is going to be done. Since this was our first time buying raw, undeveloped land, there were a few things we missed when having the land cleared. Clear expectation would be the most prominent.

We had originally contracted to have ~ 1 acre of land cleared, including tress, brush, etc., and seeded. Initially we had hope to clear the land in 2008 and then build something in 2009, but we opted to build early. We did not express our desire for our new "yard" to be of golf course quality. Instead we trusted it would be just that. So in comes the logger, chopping trees down, removing limbs, and taking out the good wood, then next was stump removal. As part of the stump removal process, the topsoil is stripped off, piled to one side, the stumping and grading is performed, and finally the topsoil is put back on. Then seed and hay is applied to begin the new yard.

Well, as luck would have it, we did not get a clear definition of this process, and so we ended up with a lot of "extra" in the yard, mostly in the form of roots, limbs, and rocks. It was expected rocks would be there so I can't say I am too surprised about their presence, but the limbs were kind of a shock, and roots are, well, a pain to put it simply. You kind of expect some roots too, but the amount of them are turning out to be overwhelming.

We started working on the yard this week, now that just about all the snow is gone, and is there a lot of work to do. In the fall, they seeded the yard, and spread hay, but shortly after it got cold and quickly snowed, so the yard still has a bunch of hay as well as the the previously mentioned roots, rocks, and and limbs.

As you can see, there is an assortment of debris in the yard. So raking, digging, shoveling, and prying were in order. We took a couple of days to go up and work on the yard a bit. The first day was very cool, so we opted to work a little on the outside, but tended to more chores inside. Since the garage door opener was finally installed, it only made sense to replace the extension cord tacked up as a temporary power source with a dedicated circuit.
And needless to say I had the perfect person for that job. I also decided to run some network jacks, as you never know what may happen down the road. (we are hoping to maybe set up a web camera someday) And of course I had another volunteer for that as well.
What a wonderful volunteer he was too. The next day was warm, but breezy, and we worked mostly in the yard with the above mentioned implements of choice. We work for several hours at a slow pace, since every time you hit a rock or root, you would stop and dig it up. Initially we were dumping roots and straw out back, and the rocks were tossed into the moat. The we decided to just dump the straw and pile roots to cut down on the trips. This is but a small sample of the things we were pulling out of the yard. Upon closer examination, you will see that some of the "roots" were a little bigger than others.
We plodded on until early afternoon, and after our backs signaled it might be time to stop, we headed off to a late lunch and Daddies Toy Store (Home Depot) in Littleton NH. This is the closest (~20-25 miles) and less expensive than the local hardware stores. We picked up a few things and ate, and we had the opportunity to catch a spectacular view of Mount Washington from town.We returned with our purchases, and cleaned up a little, and called it a day. The next day was a little sketchy and raw so we didn't get too much done. We shopped a little and did some exploring, finding places we had only reached by snowmobile in the past, and being amazed how close they were by car versus by trail. And as always when an opportunity pops up, a little photographic wonder causes a pit stop. Although the snow it mostly gone, there still remains some residual ice on the highway rock walls. Well one tumbled off and broke into pieces so close to the edge of the road, it was too inviting not to stop. Those who know me know I am not the smallest person, so using me as a measuring device will give you an idea how big the chunks of ice really were. And yes I am standing up. Finally we headed back home with a side trip to my sisters. Ryan stayed over for a few nights to hang with his cousin, and do whatever kids do these days. We stopped in Otis at the Poultry farm and picked up some goodies, and passed by a nice covered bridge down the road that spanned the Farmington River.

Spring is coming rapidly, and the closer we get to our house the greener things are becoming. UP in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, things are still that dusky color, but signs of spring are there- and occasional flower popping up, green patches of grass scattered about the lawns. We still have a month of Sundays left to clear the yard up. Hmm..... Maybe we should have a yard party???

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Snow in April? Only in Vermont! Sunday brought a light snow in the hills, not enough to stick, just enough to make you scratch your head and wonder. Last weekend we received an email letting us know all the wood work was finished upstairs. Another trip north to take more pictures!! Sweet! Well OK, we decided to do some cleanup too. Everything was put back into place however, and the only cleanup needed upstairs was a little dust wiping of the walls. Our fabulous builder got all the heavy stuff and put all the furniture pretty much back where it was before he started. We cannot think of enough adjectives to describe the results. Beautiful, fantastic, and spectacular are a few. He really took our idea and ran with it. The finished product almost exceeds our expectations. The windows were trimmed out smartly, with a nice routed edge across the sill.

The doors for the storage areas on either side of the dormer have a nice latch mechanism and built to withstand some use.
Everything came in above expectation. One of the things we asked for was an access hatch for the tiny area over the space in case of emergency, and Ken was more than happy to oblige.
We also asked if it was possible to make a door for the space behind the knee wall opposite the dormer. This would be accessed only from the stairway. Again, it was not a problem. The door looks aesthetically pleasing and works perfectly. Here is a view of the access door.
And here is a view of the door looking down the stairwell. You can see how it blends in very well.
Overall, we are extremely happy with the way things are turning out. Inside we only have carpeting planned in the next few weeks, and we should be done, and it should be inhabitable. We have some of the creature comforts to get by with Right now we can sit back for a minute and take a breath. But only for a minute.The weather is turning warmer now, the gates on the snowmobile trail are locked till December, so our next real project will be out of doors. The yard is pretty roughed up from where we were last year. Between the foundation going in and the trench for the electric, and the driveway modifications, there is definitely a lot of work left to do. Most of the snow has melted, the water is running in all directions in the moat, down the road, across the yard, and underground.
As you can see there is plenty left to be done. Our foundation has been laid, and the next step is to build upon the base, and improve our outdoor view, so it too is pleasing to the eye. Raking, root pulling, seeding are next up on the list of tasks. As the weather permits, or more accurately as the groudwater recedes, these projects will move forward. We have many more things planned over the summer, and are looking forward to the first cookout, the first sleep over and much more. Someday this summer, if the water is still flowing we will be able to put a bench out back near the moat and hear the water flowing by much like this.