Here is our latest video. Finally had some time to enjoy the cooler weather up at Mowich Camp.
That’s it for now. Kat
Here is our latest video. Finally had some time to enjoy the cooler weather up at Mowich Camp.
That’s it for now. Kat
Well we are finally putting the finishing touches on our bathhouse rebuild.
We’ll see you up there in the mountains.
We have had quite a lot of action on our Mowich Camp trail cam these past few months.
My children got this cool little stealth camera for me a couple of Father’s Days ago. Remarkably, its still running on the original set of batteries.
I have moved it from one trail location to another over the months and we have been excited to check out the images each time we head up to the camp.
Sometimes we get lucky and have a big elk walking through camp and at other times, a blurry glimpse of the tail end of a crow flying past.
A few weeks ago I decided that I would direct the camera to capture images down along our slough. I was certain that I would get lots of photos of the 3 or 4 families of ducks and ducklings that have been living very happily there. But I also was looking to catch the river otter, skunks, raccoons, and the beavers that we’ve seen around the water.
Well, yesterday when I checked the camera I found it had recorded 1647 images! The camera was programed to take a series of 4 quick images whenever something tripped the motion detector… But 1647 pictures… Yikes.
Well, as I expected ducks and crows made up most of the pics. But there were a few fun photos.
Did you notice that temperature? 106 degrees!
And finally this guy:
There has been a great deal of beaver activity in our slough this year. A few weeks ago we paddled our canoe down to the mouth of the slough where it joins the Yakima River and found a fairly elaborate beaver dam. That explained why the water was higher than normal.
Concerned about the additional risk of springtime flooding, I jumped into the water and pulled some the dam apart, but I was sure the beavers would rebuild it within a night or two.
So today I loaded some tools in the canoe, climbed into my wetsuit and neoprene boots, and set off to investigate.
Here is a little video for you:
So, that’s my solution to the beaver activity for now, I’m gonna try to live and let live. We’ll just have to keep an eye on the water levels and do a little periodic maintenance to keep the channel open. The up side is we now have a really nice landing site down at the end of the slough where we can access the Yakima River.
In closing here is a shot of the Yakima River from our “beach”. Not exactly tropical white sand and palm trees… but still, it’s pretty cool.
Well we just returned from a pretty great coastal camping trip to Crescent Bay, on the Washington side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The weather was actually pretty decent, with sun everyday, but the NW winds were another matter altogether. The almost constant 20 knot winds scoured the beach and the campground everyday, all day, and… all night. It made for some interesting arrangements for people sleeping in tents. With the strategic positioning of vehicles as wind breaks and lots of additional tie downs none of our pals were blown away into the night. But, on the bright side… There’s always a bright side, right? Those pesky mosquitos were not able to fly!
Let’s have a look at the video highlight reel:
We had a wonderful group of family and friends join us for the adventure. As much as I always enjoy my time surfing my kayak, I gotta say, just hanging around camp and watching all the kids play may have been the highlight for me.
Flying kites, kicking the soccer ball, ultimate frisbee, red light – green light, and all of it done at a full speed run… What a delight to watch.
But I think my favorite game may have been the session with the story discs.
Some background: Several years ago I hiked off into the forest and cut a few branches from a vine maple tree. I sliced those 1-1/2 inch round branches into 1/2 inch thick discs, and then decorated them with a name, a picture of an item, a sign, icon, anything that might trigger a vivid young imagination into developing a story as the discs are revealed. Each kid – there’s no size limit to being a kid in this game – picks a bunch of discs and then as they turn over the discs to see the different people, places, or things they develop a story to tell the others.
Well, I gotta say it was pretty entertaining to sit back and watch and listen to their wild tales of destruction and general mayhem.
One of the must visit places when you camp at Crescent Bay are the tide pools out along Tongue Point.
Our platoon of campers marched out there in the afternoon to explore the rocky, barnacle encrusted finger of land jutting out into the waves.
Since our group of hikers numbered 21 people and 2 dogs, we never had everybody together in one place at one time for that classic group photo. You know, now the I’m trying to count them up in my head we may have had 22 people. Not sure, but the two dogs is an accurate number.
Anyway it was certainly nice to see how well the big kids and the little kids all got along and interacted together.
Sunday afternoon found all the other families packing up and rolling out for home. Camp activity that night settled down quickly with just Leane, Richie, the Dudes, and Suzie and me. After the dudes got showered up and lost about 70% of the sand and grit that had been stuck to their bodies, they all snuggled into our van and we played “guess what animal I am” until it was time for bed.
So that’s about it for this edition of the Adventure Journal. As a final word, Suzie and I would just like to say thanks to all of the wonderful folks that joined us on this trip. We are truly blessed to have such kind, thoughtful, easy going “happy campers” to share these adventures with.
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.
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!
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.
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.
I made some small forms for concrete pads, so the concrete blocks could sit on something solid and level.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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:
This was our first look at the camp from just about one year ago.
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.
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.
Here is our latest project. It is a sledge for hauling gear to the camp in the snow.
And is you have a few minutes to spare and want to “geek out” on the build video, here you go.
Until next time…