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August 13, 2005
Marathon part 1: Papering the roof

Making ourselves at home:
A bedroom on the upper floor
A kitchen on the lower floor

On the morning of Friday, August 12, Russell drove to the building site on top of our mountain.  He would not leave the mountain for nine days.

This would be the longest that anyone had stayed continuously on the mountain top so far.  (We had once intended to stay continuously back in April, but we ended up getting rained out the second weekend.)  Also, this would be the first time that anyone (in this case, Russell) had stayed alone.

There were several reasons for this marathon.  One reason was simple curiosity.  Russell had been intrigued ever since his friend Steve had talked about being alone in the dark for an hour.  Steve said he had the creepiest feeling that he was surrounded by unseen animals who were were watching him.  Russell, always eager to test himself, wanted to see how this would feel.

A second reason was timing.  Russell's brother-in-law Matt was available for one day on Saturday.  Russell's friend Steve was available during the week from Sunday through Tuesday.  And Gail was available the next weekend from Thursday through Saturday.  It made sense for Russell simply to stay up on the mountain, to welcome the workers and get various tasks done in between.  Besides, Russell's current work schedule (i.e. his "real job") permitted him to take a week's vacation.

The third reason was necessity.  Our plan has always been to have a water-tight shell completed by the time winter arrives.  But as we look ahead to the end of the season (the rain may start anytime between September and October), we are developing an increasing sense of panic.  With less than two months to go, we have not yet completed the first story walls or the roof.  We have not even started the second story walls.  Our hope was therefore to have an incredibly productive week.

On Friday evening, Gail arrived with Cameron and Joss just before dark.  For the first time, the entire family would sleep not in tents, but directly on the upper-story sub-floor.  Russell had gone ahead and set up air mattresses, sleeping bags, sheets and blankets.  Upon her arrival, Gail enhanced the living quarters by stringing extra sheets across ropes to create "walls" against the night winds.  (Gail had perfected this technique during our trip around the world several years earlier.)

We began work early Saturday morning.  The first task would be to cover the roof with tar paper.  But before this could be done, we would have to finish nailing the roof fascias around the perimeter of the roof.  Previously, Matt had done this by leaning over the edge of the roof with a harness.  (Russell had actually tried this as well, but only succeeded in bending two nails.)

Russell's current idea was to go up instead of down.  Our longest ladder (22 feet) was not long enough to reach the roof, so we improvised by putting a picnic table underneath the ladder.  The whole arrangement was rather precarious, so we tied ropes around the picnic table to keep it from tipping over.  Then, we tied a rope around the ladder to keep it from tipping over.  Then, we tied a rope around Russell (on the ladder) to keep him from tipping over.

By the time Matt and his family arrived mid-morning on Saturday, Russell had finished nailing one of the three remaining fascias.  Matt took one look at the ladder-picnic table arrangement and declared that it was the most dangerous-looking thing he had ever seen.  He actually preferred to go back up on the roof with a harness and lean over the edge.  In less than an hour, Matt and Russell had finished nailing all of the roof fascias.

The "most dangerous-looking thing" Matt had ever seen
(That's Joss holding the rope at the other end of his dad)

The next task was to roll tar paper over the wooden roof panels.  Topsider had specified 15-lb paper, while the metal roofing company had specified 30-lb.  Gail had purchased 30-lb, mainly because it was the only grade available at Home Depot.  She had purchased five rolls, which Home Depot assured would be more than enough.  In addition, Gail had purchased a couple of "staple hammers."  These handy devices, easier to use than a two-handed staple gun, enabled you to staple simply by striking the hammer against a hard surface.

After successfully climbing all the way onto the roof without a ladder, Matt proceeded to work with amazing speed.  By lunchtime, he (stapling) and Russell (unrolling and cutting) had already exhausted the five rolls of tar paper.  Russell's sister Joanne had to drive half-an-hour into town to purchase six additional rolls.  By dinner time, the entire roof was covered (except for the section where the final roof panel is still uninstalled to provide roof access).  Russell had originally scoped this task for two days; we completed it in half a day.

Matt lays tar paper on the roof
The completed roof

In the meantime, Gail, Joanne, and the kids had successfully moved most of the kitchen from the gazebo (on the lower knoll) to the lower story of the house.  By the time Matt and Russell came down for dinner, there were two tables all laid out.

Gail (with the boys) and Matt (with his family) were both scheduled to depart Saturday evening.  Because we were so productive, they were able to leave an hour earlier than originally planned.  As Gail, Cameron, and Joss waved goodbye to Russell and drove off shortly before sunset, Joss' final words to his dad were "Don't die!"

Gail will be back in a little less than a week.  In the meantime, Russell will have a night alone to get more tasks done... and to feel the unseen animals watching him.


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