grandson mason

grandson mason

grandson jaxson

grandson jaxson

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

16-31MAY11 - Monroe, WA (house construction starts)

After returning to our RV spot at Evergreen State Fairgrounds in Monroe, WA, on 16MAY, we began to prepare our property outside of Sultan, WA, for construction of a small three bedroom rambler. If you have followed our BLOG for the last couple of years you will remember we spent most of the summer of 2009 drilling the well from hell, dealing with environmental wetland issues on our property, & finally getting a permit for a septic installation.

In 2010 we settled on a house builder, while spending the entire summer trying to obtain all the other necessary permits, & finally getting the local power utility (PUD) to install permanent power. The permits & power installation occurred at the end of SEP10 & our contractor wanted to start construction immediately! Since we didn’t want to spend the next four months in the rainy season of Seattle, we said “no & we’ll see you sometime APR11 or MAY11”.

So once the local weather was reasonable (did we tell you the Seattle area has experienced the wettest & coolest winter & spring in decades?) we headed out to our property to do prep work like - installing a silt fence to protect the wetlands, staking out the exact house location, improving the gravel driveway for heavy construction equipment, installing temporary power, etc. In addition, there is the unpleasant task of finding & getting bids from sub-contractors for the digging of the foundation, digging & installing the septic system, & installing a water treatment system for our well (did we tell you that our water is safe to drink in every county in WA state except the one we are in?).

On Sunday, 22MAY, we took a break from the property work & headed to Dan’s cousin Paul’s & wife, Shannon Peters for a family get together & BBQ’ing hamburgers & hotdogs. Followers of our BLOG will also remember that we try to visit with them often during our annual stays in the Pacific NW, & that Aunt Jan (Paul’s mom) lives on the property. We were also joined by Paul’s brothers Jim & John (& John’s kids). So it ended up being a small family reunion. However, it was a bitter/sweet time because John’s wife, Michelle, had unexpectedly passed-away less than two months ago. Another sad reminder that life is far too short & nothing is guaranteed!

The following day, Monday, our excavation contractor arrived on scene to dig our foundation. Dan thought this would be a two day job, but it was done in six hours. It was amazing to see how much dirt one man can move with the right machine (ie track hoe) & a laser survey system. On Friday, 27MAY, we learned that the forms for the concrete footings would be installed Saturday morning! So first thing Saturday morning Dan headed out to the property to find two workers staking out the location of the footings. Dan was surprised to hear that the entire job would be done in two hours (it actually took them three hours)?

The next step in the process was for the Snohomish County building inspector to come out & bless the footing forms. Since this was Memorial Day long weekend, the contractor assumed we wouldn’t see anyone until Wednesday, 01JUN, at the earliest & that he would probably return on Thursday or Friday to pour the concrete for the footings. So we were very surprised to hear late Tuesday, 31MAY, that not only had the county inspector approved the work, but the contractor had poured the concrete.
Dan immediately drove out to the property to find that the work had indeed been done; & also the concrete truck had dumped its excess load right in front of the future garage! So a less than cordial call was made to the lead contractor to inform him – 1) that we wanted to be informed before hand of any work being done; & 2) we wanted the mound of now hardened concrete removed. Hopefully the rest of the construction will go smoother than this, but we have a sneaky suspicion there will be other bumps along the way.

Monday, May 16, 2011

12-15MAY11 - Arlington & Anacortes, WA (casinos)

12MAY, Thursday, we departed our almost permanent RV spot at Evergreen State Fairgrounds for four days. We did this because the semi-annual western Washington car swap meet was scheduled to start Friday & run thru Sunday at the fairgrounds. This swap meet, & the one in the fall, are very big events; & we just didn’t want to be bothered with the late night noise (ie parties), people not controlling their dogs, etc.

After deciding not to stick around during the swap meet, the next decision was – where to go? Since it was still pretty wet throughout most of western WA, we decided to re-visit a couple of the Indian casinos we visit every now & then. First stop was Angel of the Winds, in Arlington, WA. But at the very same time we received a call from our daughter, Rebecca, voicing some concern about possible flooding in Houma, LA, from the approaching high waters of the Mississippi River. Dan spent some time researching on the internet & talking to some inside sources from his Coast Guard days; then re-assured her, & gave her some phone numbers to get latest info & suggestions on how to prepare for absolute worst case scenario.

After checking in at Angel of the Winds; we received two coupon books, one for each day of our stay. As we have previously described in this BLOG, we feel these coupon books are an excellent deal (if you control your gambling)! You pay $17 for an RV spot each night, but you get a coupon book for each night. The coupon book has one coupon for a “free” $5 bill, one coupon to match your $5 bet on any table game, one free $1 Keno game, one $1 snack food item, $3 off at the restaurant, & $5 off their shrimp feast.

Saturday morning after loosing more than our fair share at Angel of the Winds, we moved to Northern Lights Casino (aka Swinomish Casino). After setting up camp, we then took a scenic drive through the North Cascade Mountains & the towns of Sedro Wooley, Concrete, Rockport, Darrington, Oso, etc. The most scenic town was Concrete. The town of Concrete has undergone several incarnations, the earliest being a settlement at the northwestern junction of the Baker and Skagit Rivers, known as "Minnehaha". In 1905, a settlement across the Baker River came into being due to the building of the Washington Portland Cement Company and was named "Cement City".
After the Superior Portland Cement Company plant was built in 1908, it was decided to merge the two towns. Inhabitants of the new community settled on the name "Concrete" and the town was so christened and officially incorporated on May 8, 1909. We wonder why the town isn’t called Cement, since concrete was never manufactured there; & everyone knows there is a big difference between cement (which was manufactured there) & concrete - right? The name of the town is more representative of the construction material of most of the buildings in town. After two devastating fires in the early 1900s, most of the buildings were rebuilt out of poured concrete (not cement). Upon first glance from the street, the buildings look like they were built out of wood siding in the early 1900s; but upon closer examination (ie touching) you discover they are poured concrete. For some reason Concrete believes it is the “center of the known universe”! We are not sure what the difference between the “known universe” & the “universe” in general is?

Saturday & Sunday nights were spent at the Northern Lights Casino; which didn’t give anywhere near the freebies that Angel of the Winds did & cost much more for a RV camping spot. The nice (or lucky) thing was that Corrie did very, very, well on the penny slots; such that, we almost broke even for gambling on all four days. One evening we went into the town of Anacortes for dinner & a walk about. On our previous visit(s) we notice they had city trash cans decorated to look like “old time” packaging on cans of packed salmon in homage to the numerous salmon packing houses that existed in Anacortes at one time. This time we noticed they also had painted “cutouts” of people, cars, boats, etc, etc, on the sides of various buildings. The 3-D effect is something different than the “usual” wall murals you see in a lot of other cities.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

01-11MAY11 - Monroe, WA (via kittitas, wa)

Saturday, 30APR, we arrived once again at cousin Steve & Bonnie Kiesel’s in Kittitas, WA. Followers of our BLOG know all about the Kiesels & how often we stop & spend time with them. Turns out Steve was off fishing for trout with the guys. So we decided to take Bonnie out for a belated birthday dinner. Sunday Steve returned with fresh trout for dinner & Bonnie prepared a delicious clam chowder. We were also fortunate that their son, Kenneth, joined us for dinner. The rest of our visit was spent just relaxing & visiting; with no heavy duty farm chores!

Tuesday, 03MAY, we finally finished our cross country drive to our almost permanent spot at Evergreen State Fairgrounds, Monroe, WA. That afternoon we headed out to our property to check on things. Apparently western WA experienced a very wet winter/spring as shown by the amount of water on our property. Wednesday was an excellent weather day so we hauled a bunch of stuff to the barn, Corrie trimmed some trees & Dan washed the car.

After a delicious Mother’s Day brunch on Sunday, we met Bonnie & Steve at our property to “trade” tractor implements. We gave up a fertilizer spreader for a five hundred pound block of concrete that you can hang on the back of the tractor. Why? Because we won’t be growing any crops on our property, so don’t need a spreader; & they had an “extra” concrete block, which greatly improves traction on wet ground. Although tractors have massive rear wheels often filled heavy liquid calcium (like ours), tractors still need additional weight on the rear when maneuvering on wet or loose ground; especially when using the front end loader.

Wednesday, 11MAY, Dan headed into Everett to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. For a couple of years in Houma, LA, Dan volunteered with the Bayou chapter of Habitat. For the last two summers in WA he has meant to connect with the local chapter, but hasn’t. Anyway he finally got off his butt & tracked down the local representative, & was told to bring his tools to the job site first thing Wednesday morning. Although the two houses under construction are almost done, it was still good to do something constructive that benefits those less fortunate then us.