Thursday, October 11, 2007
Just another day in the mountains
Today was a "found" day as we expected to be tied up with contractors, and then on the road to San Francisco Bay to deal with hauling out our sailboat s/v Good News so we can get the bottom painted, a routine and expensive maintenance chore.
We took care of the first business early.
The contractor who is going to build us a garage came by with the county building permits in hand; actually almost, nearly, possibly ready to start the project. We began this process in Spring, signed a contract in June, and have been messing around with ideas, the county permit folk and an engineer ever since.
So far, we are only about $800 over budget, thanks to surprises from the county permit people regarding the required engineering (about $600 worth) and me paying a totally unfair penalty for the fact the wood shed, 20 years old and built by someone else, apparently did not have a permit. I decided not to argue about it, or tear down the shed, which were options that took too much energy and emotion.
We need the garage as the cars take a real beating when the snow and ice come to stay.
Our plan was to have the garage built before the snow flies.
Well, the snow flew a week ago, though it did not last long.
We remain hopeful, based on today's discussions, that within a week a neighbor will show up with a backhoe and start shoving dirt and gravel around. It is a fairly simple design, so if we get reasonable weather for the next 30 days, we may see a garage before the serious snow begins. Last year we had the first snow in late November. This year it has snowed here once, and just up the road, three times, already.
So, just in case, we will make sure the buiding supplies can be stashed out of the weather in our woodshed if needed.
The second contractor, this one a person who install kitchen counters, showed up before the first one left. That discussion required much looking at colorful tiles of various materials, all horrifically expensive, and suggesting multiple options. We will get a bid in a few days, and probably get one or two more.
This became necessary whe our kitchen counter tile cracked one especially cold winter. I have repaired the damage with duct tape for several years, but we agree it is time for a fix.
But then we were done, as the boatyard where I want to get the haulout done is not available this week.
So we went to the park.
Calaveras Big Trees State Park is our near neighbor, two miles down the road, and we almost never go there unless we have house guests.
But today we took off, found a bottle of water under the car seat, and went exploring and hiking.
We have visited the South Grove of Sequoiah (Sequoiadendron giganteum) trees many times, but today we drove all the way down the river canyon to the other side, in the middle of a beautiful forest, and hiked into the seldom-visited North Grove.
It is a beautiful time of year to be outside. The weather was post card perfect; sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-60s. Recent rains have dampened down the forest floor, and created a perfumed scent as a few eager plants have sprung back to hold their heads high.
Only four or five other vehicles were at the trailhead, and it was as if we had a magic place all to ourselves.
The drive down into the park and up the next ridge covered about ten miles of mixed conifer and oak forests, and elevation ranging from 5,000 feet down to 3,000 feet and back up again.
This part of the forest is full of small dogwoods under the larger cedars and pines and oaks, and they have all turned pink and yellow and gold and orange. Quite a sight. And we discovered a tree called a big leaf maple, plendid in yellows down alongside the creeks.
The squirrels are busy everywhere, getting ready for winter, and we even saw a few wooly worms getting ready for cold weather.
The big trees are stunning. They dominate everything nearby, and seem to lurk behind the merely magnificent Sugar Pines and White Cedars which reach upward over a hundred feet. The Stanislaus River and bear and Big Trees creeks were flowing happily.
The guide book says there are more than 1,000 living big trees (Sequoiadendron giganteum) in the groves in our park. These are not Coastal redwoods, which actually grow taller, but the prehistoric giant trees that are the largest living things in our world today -- the few that are left.
We plan to vsit them all, and not worry about meeting contractors.
We're retired. We have time to do it all.