Rebuilding The Bathhouse

We’ve been busy little campers this spring and I thought it was high time for an update from Mowich Camp.  Our all consuming project this year has been to rebuild our barely serviceable bathhouse and take it from a wasp infested, sloping, creaky wooden box, to a level, flood proof, four seasons building.

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Job #1 was to get the electric issues squared away.  I’ll try not to make this post sound like too much of a “bashing” session on the previous owners, but please note the two power poles in the above photo.  Well after the permanent line was put in they didn’t take down the temporary power pole.  They just used a combination of pluming fixtures, tape, and bubble gum to energize the temp pole from the permanent line… Yikes!  I’m amazed that it hadn’t already burned down.

No worries for our friend Walker, an electrical contractor in the real world.  He took one look at the monstrosity and casually said, “oh, that’s just the way things are done up here in the woods”.  “I have enough stuff just lying in my yard to completely fix this mess”.  And so it was that in one long day, all the electric issues were sorted.  Well done Walker!

Stripped down to the studs

Next up was to strip the building down to the studs on the back wall and one end.  We needed to jack up the building and level it out, above the height of any possible spring flooding.  Remarkably this year, even with the massive winter snowfall, there wasn’t any flooding… But we know with the Yakima River just across the road, there is a possibility of flooding every year.  No sense doing a lot of work on a structure if its only gonna be submerged every year in river water.

Our next hero to the rescue was one of my old SWAT teammates Otis.  As soon as he heard of our plans he immediately came through with all the concrete blocks we needed to raise the building.  And he delivered them to my house, 25 at a time in his very well used, little Honda Accord.  Well done Otis.

Delivery day

A local lumber company in Cle Elum, Bator Lumber, dropped off the initial lumber package and I was off to the races.

Those are 20 foot long pressure treated 6×6’s and I needed to get them under the building, and then jacked up a couple of feet into the air.

Drawing on my experience from building a couple of log houses (almost a lifetime ago) I knew that moving heavy timbers is possible with a minimum of equipment as long as you just take it easy and do thing incrementally.  Concrete blocks and 4 bottle jacks were all it took to slowly get the structure raised up and level.  And I mean, level for probably the first time ever.

Jacking up the building

I made some small forms for concrete pads, so the concrete blocks could sit on something solid and level.

The foundation is complete

Once the foundation was complete I framed up the “add on” section of the bathhouse.  Anyone who’s ever done any kind a remodel can tell you that trying to match some existing structure with new stuff is always harder that just building new from the ground up.  And this project was no exception.  Weird birds mouth cuts on the rafters, the back wall where the existing plumbing was run was so drilled full of holes it was mostly missing.

The new plumbing wall

I rebuilt that entire wall with 2×6’s so my “plumber” would have plenty of room to run all the necessary water and waste lines and we would still have sufficient room to get lots of insulation into that wall to keep things from freezing during those long, sub zero freezing spells that happen every winter.

One thing we learned last winter was that we really enjoyed our snow adventures at the camp.  We are already looking forward to next winter and the added luxury of a working, heated bathroom.  Bonus!

The “plumber” and his unskilled helper

And let me just take a second to thank my son-in-law Richie.  A plumbing contractor in the real world.  Besides being a wonderful husband and father, a talented musician, and just generally a ton of fun, he is a master of all things plumbing and gas piping.

Richie has been instrumental in the planning and layout of the project and you will never find a harder worker.  His biggest challenge has been trying to make time to get away from his real world job obligations to get up to camp and get dirty.  Not to worry, on his last trip to camp he got “really dirty”… (the details of that session are being left out to spare those with delicate stomaches). What a joy to have him along on this project with us.  Well done Richie!

Walls are framed

So with the walls framed up it was time to try to match the rafters and extend the roof.  I made a cardboard template of the rafter notches and used those to fabricate the new rafters.  That actually worked pretty well.

Suzie gets all the sucky jobs

I got the roof sheeted, and with a little help from some tarps we were basically dry inside the bathhouse.

What a trooper my beautiful bride Suzie is during all these projects.  It seems that she is always getting stuck with the sucky jobs.  In this case she spent hours with a heat gun and a scraper trying to remove the old vinyl floor from the existing footprint of the bathhouse.

Well done Suzie!

And one more hero to add to the list.  This is really turning into an “it takes a village” kind of story.

Our friend Johnny, you guessed it, a roofing professional in the real world, came through with all things roof on this project.  I was standing on the roof in the early morning sunlight texting with Johnny as we figured out all the specifications for our new lid.  I was so pleased to have Johnny on the job.  Many of the products and procedures he was suggesting weren’t even invented way back when we were roofing our log houses.  I’ll be applying the Ice and Water shield waterproof membrane on my next trip up to camp.

Well done Johnny!

Our progress to date

Well that’s where we are at this point of the project.  I’m home for a couple of days to celebrate Mother’s Day and some family birthdays.  Tomorrow I’ll be headed back up to camp to pick up where I left off…

Once again thanks to all of our family and friends who are involved and helping with this project.  We are really excited to get it done and then spend the rest of the summer just goofing off with you all at Mowich Camp.

 

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Winter At Mowich Camp

Things have been a little quiet on the Adventure Journal lately, but certainly not because we’ve been sitting on the couch all winter.  I thought I would post a few photos to give you an update on all the snowy fun we have been having up at the camp.

To say this has been an extreme winter for snow fall would be an understatement.

Bobcat Tracks

Bobcat Tracks

On one trip into the camp we spotted a beautiful little bobcat standing in the road right near our driveway.

Of course I missed getting a photo of him (her) but I later followed his tracks all over our property.  Several attempts to capture his portrait on the trail have, so far, been unsuccessful.

I know that the cats typically like to follow trails packed down in the snow by people on snowshoes.  So I set up the camera on one of my tracks but every time we have returned to check the SD card the trails have been completely covered by fresh snow fall… tons of fresh snow fall!

The Roof Cornice

The Roof Cornice

 

We were worried about the snow on the roof over the trailer sliding down and smashing one of the dudes.  So I rigged up an old climbing rope to close off the passage way under the cornice.

Of course Duke found that it was the perfect place to play.  Sheesh!

 

The new fridge on the sledge

The new fridge on the sledge

The new fridge built in

The new fridge built in

For our 40th anniversary Suzie and I got a new fridge for the trailer… I know, we’re so romantic!

The original, 34 year old fridge, was discussing and we ripped it out immediately after we bought the place.

The replacement item is marvelous and I fabricated a little self to fill in the empty space above the unit.

Just to give you an idea of how much snow has fallen this year:

One morning were all sitting around our camp fire and we heard a tremendous crashing noise.  It came from somewhere across the road.  Leane suggested we go investigate the neighborhood to see what it was.

The neighbor's garage roof collapsed

The neighbor’s garage roof collapsed

We post-holed into this place and took some pictures.  I posted them to the local (members only) Facebook page and the owners were notified…. since this photo was taken another couple of feet of snow has fallen.

How about this comparison:

Mar 19, 2016

Mar 19, 2016

This was our first look at the camp from just about one year ago.

Feb 28, 2017

Feb 28, 2017

That was yesterday.  Feb 28th, just 19 days short of a full year later.  There is a solid 3-4 feet of snow still on the ground.

Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland

Well our plan for this year is to completely rebuild the bathhouse.  We are going to jack it up and level it out.  Build a proper foundation under it, and insulate the building to make it a four season bathhouse.  But, as you can see, that project is still a long way off.

That’s it for now.  Of course as the snow melts and the floods come we’ll keep you posted on the events.

Kat

 

 

 

 

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The Snow Sledge

Here is our latest project.  It is a sledge for hauling gear to the camp in the snow.

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And is you have a few minutes to spare and want to “geek out” on the build video, here you go.

Until next time…

Kat

 

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New Years at Mowich Camp

Out with my baby girl on our XC skis

Out with my baby girl on our XC skis

What better way to welcome in the new year than to spend it with family and friends in our own little winter wonderland.

We escaped to the mountains for a few days of snowshoeing, XC skiing, sledding, campfires, ukuleles, and lots of shoveling snow.

Let’s start with a little video:

 

…and how about a few more pictures.

The Dudes

The Dudes

Kingston

Kingston

Duke

Duke

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Logan and Heather

Logan and Heather

And finally here is our pal Walker in full twist mode.

Walker

Walker

 

Happy new year everybody.

Kat

 

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Smithbrook Sled Shred

We headed back to a very familiar winter playground for our family.  Smithbrook Road in the central Washington Cascade mountains.  Here are a bunch of photos we wanted to share:

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Smithbrook Road runs up along this creek

Booker breaking trail.

Booker breaking trail.

Note:  The little smile 🙂

This was our crew crossing the snowy bridge

This was our crew crossing the snowy bridge

Left to right – Travis, Remy, Booker, Suzie, Teresa, Kat

Soon we turned off the road and dropped down into the valley.  The terrain was really steep so I went down first and stomped in a pretty doable switchback pathway all the way down.

Descending the switchback path

Descending the switchback path

Easy dose it...

Easy does it…

Safely down

Safely down

Remy's first hike on his new snowshoes

Remy’s first hike on his new snowshoes

Even little Remington managed the descent with no problem.

Finally it was Travis’ turn to come down (with the sleds)…

The launch

The launch

Airborne

Airborne

and inevitably the crash…

Final impact

Final impact

About this time we broke out our snow shovels and began grooming a proper sled track, with a launch pad and some jumps.

Booker shooting the hill

Booker shooting the hill

Remy- the wipeout specialist

Remy- the wipeout specialist

Teresa got the best air

Teresa got the best air

Lunch time

Lunch time

Sled run after sled run worked up an appetite, so we took a little break for some lunch.

A beautiful day.

A beautiful day.

It was wonderful to get back up to Smithbrook Road, and stomp around in a winter wonderland that has been the site of so many great family adventures for us over the decades.

That’s all for now.  Hope you all had a great Christmas and happy holidays.

Kat

 

 

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Meet My New Neighbors

There goes the neighborhood

There goes the neighborhood

Hope you liked the video.  Don’t miss a chance to get our and enjoy nature.

Kat

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Buzzy’s Cedar Box

After nearly 50 years of service, my brother Buzzy is finally retiring from the Seattle Police Department.  For any of my pals in law enforcement, this is the place where your jaw drops and you say, “holy smokes”.  (Or something like that).

So I thought I would make him a special commemorative keep sake box to mark the occasion.  Here is a little video of that project:

What better day then Thanksgiving to present the box to Buzzy.  I had a chance to show him the video and hand over the cedar box.  We also spent a little time examining the video editing process and seeing how all the video clips, background jingles, and voice over segments blend together to form the final project.

Speaking of blending, one of the things a most enjoy about a project like this is the blending of some old school woodworking craftsmanship, and the creativity of shooting and editing an interesting (I hope) little video.

The finished box

The finished box

Walking back from the lumber yard

Walking back from the lumber yard

Well thanks for following along.  I hope you liked the show.  Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Kat

 

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