BrownStone Chinooks is devoted to fostering the excellent health and wonderful temperament of Chinook dogs. Hard-working Chinooks excel in many activities such as agility, obedience, back yard play, hiking, dog powered sports, search and rescue, and as service dogs. The affectionate Chinook is an excellent family dog matching its activity level to that of its companions - be it strenuous exercise or snuggling on the couch.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Not Just a Ramp...(3)

Finally the Cement Pour Phase
The big day was March 12. Late season snow and heavy rains had put all PNW cement projects on hold. We got in the queue for a truck load and with luck the weather held for the pour.
Wayne brought in Will from a temporary help company. Until now I had prided myself in being the "muscle" on this project. After I saw what working with cement entailed, I was more than relieved to just sit back with a camera and margarita.
After using the heavy gravel tamping machine, the boards were put in to control the boundary of the cement. The retaining wall boulders were going to be cemented in but Wayne wanted a slight slope away from them.
Wayne and Will slogged through several inches of rock filled, wet cement as they drug 7 cubic yards of the heavy, sucking stuff uphill to the top of the drive.
Once that was completed, the remaining 3.5 cubic yards were unloaded on the lower portion.
Luckily the carport roof was high enough to accommodate the cement truck or it would have been wheel barrow time.
The first smoothing was complete when company accidentally let Trask out of the house.
He gleefully jumped from the yard, over the retaining and, plop with all four feet landing squarely in the cement. He sunk to the elbows as he wallowed about to get out of there. I rushed to get to water so I could get the cement off him to prevent further spreading and keep him from being burned with the lime. I could not let go of him to take pictures of him with cement coated legs but his tracks are now a permanent fixture on the old patio.
It took Wayne and Will about 45 minutes to fill in the paw sink holes and re-smooth the drive.
Then came the removal of the boards and filling in the area around each boulder.
Several other types of smoothing passes were taken with different grades of trowels and brushes. I have always wanted to put my hand prints and name in a cement project and really wanted Dave's in this project. We couldn't figure out how to hover Dave so we could get his hand prints. Wayne  suggested foot prints of Dave stepping out into the world.
Way Cool!
Our names are splatted in cement. 👌
Cement waits for no one. Wayne finished the final "shinning" at 2216 by moon and starlight.
The saga continues...

Monday, April 9, 2018

Not Just a Ramp... (2)

The Gravel Phase
A couple months of exploding toilets and mud everywhere, gradually was covered with 3" of gravel and after a balmy winter, a surprise element.
One trip and it became quite evident that a dyslexic (me) could not back the van down the narrow drive without altering the paint job on the side panels and a lot of fear and frustration from passenger Dave. I rebuilt the inner island adding over a foot to the drive width.
 You can not pour cement during a snow storm (February 18, 2018)
February 19 brought freezing rain covered with more snow. A new Olympic sport - Wheelchair Luge - was attempted as Dave had to get to the hospital. 
The day before my sister had told me that when you take a wheelchair down a ramp, you go first and backwards. HA! There was no way I was going to become a speed bump for a loaded runaway wheelchair on ice covered ramps and patio. Dave had a death grip on the seat and I slid behind using the wheelchair handles as I did in my old ski patrol days running a 350 sled.
February 20, the snow continued to build up.
 All work was stopped on the drive.
Snow play became the order of the days. (February 21)
February 22 brought about 4 more inches of snow. My nephew played hooky from school with his kids to play in the white joy.
Vineman in his winter attire while the daffodils and tulips at his feet disappeared.
 February 23 brought the most beautiful morning of all.
 By March 12, all the snow had melted and the base under the gravel had started to dry and compact.
The snow actually was fortunate for the project. My backing skills did not improve. I took advantage of the drying period to take apart and move the inner island in another foot. I also moved a peaked rock, that even though it had been tried in numerous places in the retaining wall and just didn't fit in, to become a center feature in the inner island.
 The gravel was smoothed...
 the retaining wall boulders were in place...
 the dogs approved...
 it was time to pour.
And pour it did. Not cement but days of torrential rain.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Not Just a Ramp...

To go anywhere within or outside our house you need to take stairs - lots of stairs. Then once outside transport involved going across the lawn or gravel. Even husky firemen/ambulance guys were not too happy about the difficulty of getting in, through and out of the house. With Dave getting weaker, a solution needed to be created. Thus the idea of a cement ramp from the road to the back patio and a ramp from inside the house was formulated. But anyone who knows us, knows a simple projects tend to take on a life of their own.
Years ago I created a rock garden up a 4' tall embankment between the house and the rock-house. It turned out really beautiful as well as functional. Somehow in the 20 some years since it's completion, I never took a picture of it that I can now find.
In 2015 we had a party for Dave's retirement/birthday. The retaining wall is over our shoulders. It contained several huge boulders and ornamental herbs which unfortunately do not show in this one-and-only picture I could find.
The lawn started at the top of the retaining wall.
Water and Mud - Lots of Mud - Phase
The cement contractor, Wayne, had a different idea when he first looked at the project. "Walkway? Why not a driveway!?" Sure, why not? I removed all the plants and boulders from the retaining wall. Wayne came and laid out a rough outline of the drive. The digging began.
Rumors told of hot and cold water pipes running out to the yard for a future outdoor kitchen. These were supposedly placed in 1965 and went straight out from the kitchen sink. We had searched for them off and on for years with no luck and racked their existence up to folk lore. No problem, the inner rock island of the project was to be over the area of these mystery pipes. NOT! The backhoe made short work of the old pipes. Dual water fountains flooded the excavation area. The first of many trips to the hardware store was made to get the tools and parts to re-thread cap the pipes.
Knowing it might be some time before we got water restored, I turned on the tub faucet to fill the tub (so we could have water to flush) as I went to the pump house to completely turn off the water. In the meantime the house plumbing filled with back-flow mud. I came back to find that Jake had had a blast tracking around in the tub mud.
All of the toilets and faucets exploded with mud filled air pockets for a few days.
In the end it made little difference to the floors in the house. Three weeks of myself and three dogs constantly walking through mud and tramping around the house just added to the general patina of the old wood floors.
After the flooded ground had dried a bit, it was time to seriously excavate. Two of us ran tractors to take away the dirt the excavator was removing. At one point we kept a steady relay of dumping and reloading tractors continually for 4 hours.
The next step was removing the cement base of the retaining wall. To everyone's surprise and total amazement, the cement saw cut into a 3", cast iron, under pressure, water pipe creating a spectacular fountain higher than the second-story roof and again flooding the work area.
No one in the family had a clue about the origin of this pipe; why it exists and; why it was laid under a cement stem wall, set of cement stairs and the patio itself. We still don't know which way the water was flowing but it was stopped at the well-pump. Once again the house plumbing was filled with air and mud. Fixing the pipe proved to be quite a challenge and all work had to stop until the ground dried.
After a few days we could start to move in boulders I had stashed over the years in my landscaping boulder bone-pile. (BrownStone Chinooks does come from all of the brown stones I have mined in the woods and landscaped with.) We still could not drive equipment on the excavated area but did put down some gravel to keep from sinking too far in as we maneuvered the heavy rocks.
Not wanting to damage or scratch moss off the boulders, all were slung and carried by the excavator. (My job was getting the slings under the boulders and then removing them at the other end using a lot of muscle and the heavy steel "pig-sticker".)
Once we accumulated several in the drive area, we were able to start of the fun puzzle-piece placement of the new retaining walls. Both Wayne and I are dyslexic. Poor Matt was learning to use his new excavator and not only had to figure out the finer points of placing dangling boulders, he had to deal with Wayne and I debating "the-other-left".
As it turned out, each boulder was placed and replaced several times as we decided the best side and fit. The first two boulders took an entire day to set. Top. bottom. front, back and all other edges were up for debate on each boulder.
Once the most aesthetic option was decided upon, holes had to be dug by hand for the final placement.
Boulders were moved and placed with the excavator, tractors, hand cart and often pure muscle...
"Oh great! Another mystery pipe" This one we spotted before busting it.

and after a few weeks, resulting in a, I can shamelessly brag, pretty spectacular retaining wall. I also did all of the placement of the boulders and rocks on the "inner" island retaining wall.

Next: the Gravel Phase.