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June 19, 2011
Fatherís Day

Joss and Cameron discuss deck railing installation with their father

Russell was supposed to be traveling for business over Fatherís Day weekend, but the trip was cancelled at the last minute. Gail promptly took advantage of the opening by scheduling a trip up to our mountain home.

This year has marked the first time that we did not have both sons with us for Russellís birthday, Gailís birthday or Motherís Day. So as an added bonus, we persuaded both Cameron and Joss to join us for the weekend. (The bait was our new Internet access, which enables the boys to stay connected to their friends. In fact, Joss was able to bring the new laptop he had just received for graduating high school.)

We drove up Friday evening, June 17, after Cam finished his dayís work (heís a volunteer production assistant at Starting Arts film camp). We caught the tail-end of rush-hour traffic and didnít arrive until after 9:30 pm.

Friday evening was spent setting up everyoneís PCs and the Xbox videogame console. Russell was also excited to try out the AT&T MicroCell that he had brought up two weeks ago. The MicroCell uses the Internet to provide cell phone access where none is available. Unfortunately, he couldnít get it to work.

Cameron and Joss with their laptops. Gail with her birthday Kindle. Are we wired, or what?

The AT&T MicroCellÖ unfortunately not working

The construction task for this weekend was to continue installing cable railing on the exterior decks. During our last trip, we had installed two cables on Cameronís deck before we noticed that the cables were straining the holes in the corner posts. We decided to reinforce the posts with aluminum angle iron. We were glad we did so, because after two weeks, the angle iron was the only thing holding the cables in place.

We spent Saturday morning installing the rest of the angle iron as well as the remaining six cables on Cameronís deck. All four of us helped at various stages, though Cameron was suffering from a newly caught cold.


Cameronís deck, before and after cable installation

Cameronís deckÖ finished!

By Saturday afternoon we had finished Cameronís deck! We decided to tackle the massive family room deck next. This deck is much larger than the others, spanning three full sides of the houseís octagon. As a result, each cable would require turnbuckles at both ends.

It took Russell and Gail almost an hour to drill and install the eyebolts that would anchor the cables. It took all four of us to string the first cable through the three deck lengths. There were some additional logistical problems to resolve: getting the turnbuckles to fit in the small spaces between the posts, cutting the cable to exactly the right length, and getting the correct tension. Finally, the first cable was installed.

Joss strings cables.
Cameron installs a turnbuckle.

By the time we got to the second cable, it was only Russell and Joss working. Russell cut the second cable a half-inch shorter than he should have, and it took an extreme amount of effort to get both ends anchored. It was getting dark and we called it a day.

Sunday, Fatherís Day, saw Russell and Gail up early with renewed energy. The previous dayís work had required all four of us; Russell was determined to streamline and improve the process. Because we were not using any power tools, Russell and Gail started work at 7:30 am, while the boys were still asleep.

The goal was to get two more cables installed before our mid-day departure. This would get us exactly halfway through all of the cables. Cameronís deck cables took about 30 minutes each. The first two family room deck cables took about 45 minutes each.

The great deck, before and after cable installation

Russell and Gail got the process down to less than 20 minutes each. By late morning, we had installed all six of the remaining deck cables. The family room deck was finished!

The family room deckÖ finished!

We had two visitors this weekend. The first was our friend Steve, who drove up unexpectedly on his motorcycle Saturday afternoon. He had planned a day trip and had no idea we were going to be up here as well. Steve stayed through Saturday burning and chopping, but departed shortly after midnight.

Our second visitor was a three-foot-long rattlesnake who was coiled up near one of the exterior walls. Russell found this out the hard way when he came down a ladder and the snake suddenly hissed and rattled at him. We watched from a distance as the snake slithered its way over to a nearby wood pile and disappeared under it.

The rest of us departed the mountain shortly after noon on Sunday. We battled traffic to get to Dublin in time for a 2:30 showing of ďSuper 8Ē. Everyone enjoyed the film, and we finished Fatherís Day with a return to Eddie Papaís restaurant in Pleasanton for an early dinner.

We have just one more deck left to install cable railings, and we intend to finish that during our next trip. Once the decks are finished, we only have one more task to complete for our long-awaited occupancy permit: the interior stair railings.

The worldtrippers: Fatherís Day, June 19, 2011


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