October 2007

ceilingbeforeafter.jpgSpent the weekend bopping to my favorite groups (Glad and Michael Buble) and scrubbing cigarette smoke, wood and coal burning soot, and fly poop off every inch of the downstairs. It was disgusting. You can see the film that was on everything in this picture. Fortunately, Dave and Sherry tipped me off to Awesome, an all purpose cleaner found at the Dollar Store. Spray it on and the junk would just run down the wall. All I had to do was wipe it down several times to get all the loosened dirt off. I’m glad I went to the trouble of doing all this because I don’t think paint would have stuck otherwise!

The low point of the weekend was scraping up the partially decayed squirrel from behind the bathroom vanity with a spackle knife. In between gagging attacks I shoved him into the wet/dry vac hose. That had to be the most disgusting thing I’ve ever had to do in my life.

krisbrian.jpgKris and Brian came over on Sunday evening and pulled all the staples and tacks out of the floor and vacuumed up (after we emptied the squirrel from the sweeper). And other than being outsmarted by some fly strips – opening them up is NOT a simple task! – it was a good weekend. Got a lot accomplished even if it doesn’t look like it.

Pick your friends wisely. And that means never be friends with a member of the HARD Runners group because you never know what they’ll do to you. Mike Shay found that out this morning, his last day of work at the Annville Post Office, when he showed up to a side walk full of chalk art.

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And to save time when we get sent to prison for vandalizing government property, we already took our profile picture
Shay retaliates by posting a WANTED sign in the post office

Spent the weekend at the house emptying the place out and collecting all the junk the guy left behind into one spot. It was a major operation…there was a LOT of junk. On Sunday some friends and their spouses from the group I run with came out to lend a helping hand. Wow. I didn’t know they were all so destructive! Rob especially had a gleam in his eye at the mention of tearing carpet out and taking down a fence.

Once we got all the junk out of the house, ripped out all the carpet, cleaned out the shed, and did a variety of other tasks, we cranked up a bonfire of some of the burnables and roasted hot dogs. Dad and Irene came over and pulled out most of the scrap steel and aluminum from the pile. (They hauled the stuff away and got about $50 for the metal and the 4 batteries.) Dave and Sherry showed up with ice cream and Sherry tackled the fridge (disgusting!!!) while Dave helped Bonnie and Denny set the leaning outhouse right. :-)

We got more done on Sunday than I ever thought possible. These people were workers! Thank you sooooo much for all your help guys. I could never express in words how much it meant to me.

Monday paled by comparison. I got most of the bathroom cleaned out. Amazing that the walls were actually white when I got done washing them, instead of the yellowish tobacco and fly pooh stains. Blech!

It’s back to the shop for the rest of the week now. I’ll post more next week.

Nat and Rob after ripping up the carpet

Shawn and Nat by the pile o’ garbage collected

Dave rolls up Sherry’s sleeves before she “dives” into the fridge

Shawn and Rob taking an unauthorized break

Shawn, Nat, me, and Bonnie proudly standing in front of the pile o’ junk

Rob’s happy as a clam ’cause he gets to take some wood home

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The most important job of the day – fixing the outhouse

Charlie takes a walk through the muddy spring runoff

Nat, Bonnie, and Denny laughing at Charlie

Dad and Dave sitting around the bonfire

The bonfire

West side of living room

Dining area and east side of living room



Tiny bedroom

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Loft area

The roof needs to be replaced. It’s not leaking yet (that I’ve found anyway) but it’s in rough shape. Plus my insurance will drop in price once the roof is replaced and a railing is added to the porch. Paid for the shingles last week but have to wait until a trailer is available to pick them up.

All the windows in the place also need to be replaced. They are also in sad shape. Ordered the windows yesterday. Not one single window is standard size nor can any of them be framed out to use a standard sized window. So they were all custom ordered. Ouch! Ended up paying a bit more than anticipated. They should be in and delivered in 2 weeks. Crossing my fingers that they show up and that I have the roof done by then.

The electric WAS turned on Thursday, Oct 18th. Yeayyy! Still trying to catch up in the shop from being gone so I waited until Saturday to dive in. Changed my shop hours – Saturdays are by appointment through the end of the year – so that I can work on the house Saturday, Sunday, and Monday and then work double time in the shop Tuesday through Friday. Got a slew of stuff done this weekend. But first I’ll post the pictures of the property (outside only!) before I started any work.

Taken from the northeast corner of the land

From the southeast corner

From the west

Northern part of the property that desperately needs clearing. There’s actually a spring in there somewhere.

There’s also a stream that cuts down the western part of the land, in addition to the spring. This is the driest part of the year and the stream is flowing well.

A pond that the stream flows into

Part of the lane heading back to the house

I’ve decided to track the progress on my house by keeping a journal of the project here. I’ll post pictures and describe what’s been done as it happens.

First thing’s first – I called on Tuesday to get the electric turned back on. The previous owner didn’t pay his bills so the electric was turned off over a month ago. After jumping through some hoops to convince them that I just bought the house and that I was not the previous owner, they put in a work order for Wednesday. I stopped over Wednesday evening intending to get started on the project but the electric had NOT been turned on. Grrr. There was a foul up in Met-Ed’s (the power company) work order. They assured me the power would be turned on today. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Went over this morning and changed the locks on the two doors and took some pictures of the outside. Problem is, I’m too embarrassed to post the pictures until I get the place cleaned up at least a little so it’s easier to see the potential the place has. Of course, “potential” is a synonym for “a lot of freaking work!” Once I get the place emptied of all the junk the guy left behind, I’ll post some pictures, I promise.

Forget the ramblings….take me to the pictures.

Spent 4 days hiking 50 miles of the 85 mile Susquehannock Trail in north central PA with my two dogs and Ken, one of the members of the group from the BFT trip. I had two main objectives on this trip:

1. To not go hungry
2. To stay warm – temps were to be lows in the 30′s and highs in the 50′s

In light of these two objectives, my pack was heavier than it’s ever been – about 35 lbs with food and water.

Day 1 – Friday

I met Ken in the little town of Cross Fork where I parked my car and drove with him in his car to the start of the loop. I’d be hiking the 50 miles to my car and Ken would be hiking an additional 35 miles to complete the loop back to his car. I was originally planning to do the entire 85 miles in 7 days but I was already behind in the shop so I compromised. A painful and bruised ankle clinched the shortened hike.

We started hiking at 10:30 Friday morning (Oct. 12) in a drizzle. By 11 we realized we were no longer on the trail, so we backtracked 3/4 of a mile and found where we went wrong. Our hike was supposed to be 9.5 miles that day. With the extra 1.5 miles in the beginning and another mile at the end when we somehow missed our campsite, it turned out to be a 12.5 mile day. High temp was 42. Low was 35. But I stayed warm!!!

Day 2 – Saturday
spam.jpg9 miles with only one major uphill. Hooray!!! Still, hips and feet were sore from carrying a 35 lb pack.
Discovered some interesting things today:
1. Spam now comes in foil pouches like tuna and on the back of the pouch it says spam can be used as an air freshener. I kid you not. Check out the picture.
2. According to Ken, you can actually gain weight on the trail. I was having trouble fathoming that because I always starve on the trail.

Day 3 – Sunday
A 10 mile day. Hiked 7 miles into Ole Bull State Park where we ate our supper for lunch. We weren’t sure if we’d have water at our campsite tonight because many of the streams are totally dry, so we decided to eat our cold lunch for supper which wouldn’t require cooking or cleaning up. We got to the campground and sat at a picnic table like civilized human beings and cooked our mac and cheese (me) and noodles (Ken). I opted for a soda from the soda machine – a 20 oz bottle of Mountain Dew. Under normal circumstances, it would have given me a bit of an energy boost for an hour and staved off a caffeine withdrawal headache for another day but I had detoxed from caffeine about 3 weeks ago so it had a little more affect than usual. Between the Mountain Dew and the Vitamin I (Ibuprofen) I took for my my ankle, I practically flew up those mountains after lunch. In fact, if I hadn’t had to stop every 10 minutes to pee out the liter of water I also drank, I would have left Ken eating my dust.

We made it to the campsite by 3:30. It turned out that the stream was running. We ate supper by a roaring fire (our fifth on this trip) with S’mores for dessert (a third for this trip).

Day 4 – Monday – A trail of apples, bees, and blowdowns
15 miles today. Started at 8:30 and finished at 5:45. It was a memory-making sort of day:

Apples – found several apple trees over the length of the trail today. My food supply was getting pretty low so they were a welcome addition – all 6 of them!

Bees – We were heading down a REALLY steep section of trail (sliding down is more accurate) and had to bushwhack our way around a blowdown. As we were just getting back on the trail, I saw Charlie swatting at his face. Some bees were after him. As I was trying to help him, I noticed Ackey….and gasped. She was absolutely covered in yellow jackets. They were just clinging to her fur…probably a hundred of them or more. I started trying to brush them off with my hiking stick but then they went after me. So I grabbed her by the pack and made her run down the trail as fast as we could, knowing there was a good stream at the bottom about a 1/2 mile away. By the time we got to the stream most of the bees were off. I had to pull off a few that were embedded in her fur. But I didn’t have to dunk her in the stream. I watched her for a while concerned about how many times she was stung. I know it wouldn’t take a whole lot to make a 60 lb dog sick or worse. After a while I was able to tell where she was stung as the places swelled up. One was right above her eye and swelled her eye shut. I found only 3 stings on her. Whew!!! I didn’t find any on Charlie. Ken got 2 and I got 4. Who needs caffeine when you have adrenaline?!?

Blowdowns – Blowdowns are trees that have fallen across the trail and you have to climb over, under, through, or around. Most of the time it’s not a big deal to hop over a trunk or duck under a limb. But there was one section of trail about a mile long with blowdown after blowdown where you couldn’t hop over them. You had to either find your way through all the branches – like playing twister on a jungle gym – or bushwhack around them (also no small feat). This mile of trail just kicked our butts – it was harder than any of the mountains we had to hike up. There were several instances where I had to pick up Ackey by her pack and lift her over. On the last blowdown of the series, I watched horrified as Ken took a nasty spill, envisioning myself trying to summon help to get him treated for a broken leg. He was fine though.

It was a S’mores evening after such a tough day of hiking.

Day 4.5 – Thursday morning
Hiked out an easy 4.5 miles to my car in Cross Fork. Called home to get my messages to see if there was a possibility of finishing the trail even though my ankle told me straight out that there was no chance. We grabbed lunch at Deb’s Place. I had one of their Bubba Burgers and fries. Wow…it was quite the burger but I ate every bite of it! Also got the dogs 6 hot dogs to chow down on. Said goodbye to Ken and wished him well on the last three days of his hike and drove the 3.5 hours home. The dogs slept the whole way.

Regarding my objectives:
1. I failed miserably on not being hungry. I once again grossly underestimated the amount of food I’d need. I should have doubled the size of every meal and the amount of trail mix snacks. *sigh* But that would have been sooo much extra weight. :-\

coldackey.jpg2. I did manage to stay warm. Slept in 2 shirts, a fleece jacket, a rain jack, running tights, wind pants, two heavy pairs of socks, a winter hat, a scarf, and a 20 degree sleeping bag. I had to give up the wool sweater I used for a pillow to cover Ackey so she didn’t shiver. Charlie slept in my sleeping bag with me.

Enjoy the pictures below. I gotta go put my pack and equipment in storage for the spring. :-(

Almost halfway up cardiac hill. So glad for the sign.

Beautiful setting for this camp.

Heading down the trail.

Poor Ackey is so tired after our 15 mile day that she won’t even lift her head up to eat.

A tease of a view.

The sign reads, “Spook Hollow – Keep to the center of the trail. Stay within sight of companion. Refrain from looking back. DO NOT TRY TO RUN”

Leave it to Charlie to find the softest place to sleep.

Ken was serious about his sleep with the 5 lb air mattress. He should have had an air compressor to blow it up!

Appropriately named – I was famished!

I am the owner of a brand spanking new mortgage. After two and a half months of trying to close on a house, I finally signed the papers today. I don’t think there was much ink left in the pen after all those signatures!

Now I just have to wait for the guy to get his stuff out of the house…he’s only had two and a half months, after all. :-(

In the meantime, I’m going on a short backpacking trip…my last hoorah before I have to replace a roof and windows, put siding up, clean up and generally make the place inhabitable.

I’ll get some pictures once the guy has moved his stuff out.

To me, the phrase “going ultralight” had always meant going backpacking without my stove, water filter, half my tent, etc….just taking the absolute bare minimum and keeping my pack weight under 16 pounds. That was last week. Now I’ve got a new meaning to the phrase.

Gene and his UltralightI just got back from a working vacation – spent a week and a half working and hanging out in a shop gleaning some machining info and repair tips. While I was there, one of the employees invited me for a ride in his ultralight…a little go-cart type contraption with a parachute attached. I politely declined but then was later talked into it. I was having serious second thoughts about going up when one of the other guys called the guy over that I would be flying with and told him to stay away from a certain house in the area. Apparently, some nut case in the community threatened to shoot the ultralights down if they came within firing range.The parachute laid out on the ground, untangled


But it was awesome….after I got over the initial panic of seeing the ground get farther and farther away and realized we weren’t going to plummet to our deaths, anyway.

We cruised at about 600 ft, going about 25 miles per hour. We were able to talk back and forth over the system in our helmets so I got a tour of the area as we soared across the country side. The views were absolutely beautiful.

I’m not about to go out and buy my own ultralight but it was a great experience I’m glad I didn’t pass up.

Ultralight from opposite side Ultralight from front Where we’d be sitting Another ultralight going up just after us That pile of material was going to keep us in the air??? The parachute laid out on the ground, untangled Our shadow as we take off Still climbing A quarry in the distance A reflection of me taking a picture of the back of Gene’s helmet Some hay bales all lined up Nice view…look at how small the scattered hay bales are here Some swimming cattle Gorgeous view Flying over Gene’s house. The other ultralight that took off after us A closer shot A view of Springfield on the horizon Parachute is still there - whew! The other side too Landing