Monday, August 13, 2012

FALL HABITAT TRIP: Part 2 Pagosa Springs Work

Part Two – Habitat for Humanity in Pagosa Springs
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Monday, August 13, 2012
Click HERE for all of today's pictures
     It cooled right off last night!  We used the sleeping bags instead of just a sheet and blanket.  Felt great and slept well. 
     Up leisurely to read, I caught up on some scribbles and journaling, breakfast.  Then we packed a light lunch and took off for Wolf Creek Pass area.  Nothing too strenuous today – it is a rest day, but we wanted to explore a little!  We passed who I think is our group leader driving in – he was blocking the road out! 
Pagosa Valley from pass overlook
     This is one gorgeous valley.  A series of small lakes, wide open grassy meadows filled with sunflowers, horses, and cows.  Old fashioned wooden fences add to the charm.  Wolf Creek Pass is only 17 miles from the campground.  The first 9 are gradual uphill, and then the road steepens dramatically for the windy climb to the summit.  There is an overlook at the two mile mark that provides a wonderful view to the west of the valley.  We stop for a couple quick pictures, and I realize I have left my camera battery charger in the trailer, and the light is blinking.  This will cut down on the picture taking this trip! 
View northwest from Lobo Overlook. 
     On up to the pass and a road that cuts up to the top of Lobo Overlook and a radio transmitter station.  What a great view in all directions.  An array of wildflowers AND a cold wind!  We put on our windbreakers, but even then it is chilly!!  We find some dwarf fireweed, white daisy like flowers, pussytoes, and on the way back down….gentians and harebells and paintbrush!  Plus lots of hellebore and goldenrod.  Rick makes a cell call to his mom – we have coverage from the top!  I left a message with mine – she was probably at the church! 
     From the pass we drove down to the Wolf Creek Ski Area, and found a road that wound down through the ski runs to a large meadow and lift, and then down to Albert Reservoir.  Mt. Albert is one of the hikes we will take.  It sits to the southeast of the ski area.  Grab a snack for lunch at the boat dock at the reservoir. 
Treasure Falls
     Back over the pass and down to the base of the mountain and the trail to Treasure Falls.  A great legend about lost gold buried somewhere here, but now you find an interpretive trail on the geology and change, including an 1985 blow down during a very wet spring when the mountain basically just collapsed in one area and washed out over the freeway.  The falls itself didn’t have a great deal of water in it – misty!  We spotted mountain ash bushes, wild geraniums, some fireweed, and lots more pussytoes. 
     The sun has come out and it is warm, unlike this morning when the skies were pretty cloud filled.  You can tell the afternoon storms will still arrive, but for the moment in the sun….it is hot!   (Probably all of 85 maybe!)  Good news!  The camera battery has been blinking all day, but it hasn't given out on me!  
     Back to the trailer around 2 to find most of the group has checked in.  I meet Mark and he gives us our name tags.  Must remember to wear them now!  We are scheduled to meet around 4 pm as a group before the 5pm dinner down at the shelter. 
Group introductions as we await dinner. 
     One of the single gals in the group (Peggy from north of Denver) has had motor home problems and won’t be making it until next weekend.  She can’t get her rig repaired until Thursday.  But….another couple has come in who missed another build due to a family emergency.  We have room, so they will be joining us.  So…a net gain!  Our group includes team leader Mark from Texas, Jim also from Texas (they are both full time RVers), Lori and Jerry McHugh from Boulder City, NV (right by Vegas), Mike and Barb from Arizona near Phoenix, and Jim and Jo Ann from Yuma, AZ, who are the latecomers to join us.  Jim and JoAnn are also former middle school teachers.  Mike and Barb have only done one other build – here in Pagosa last year.  The McHughs are on their 15th.  Everyone else somewhere in between.  Rick and I and Peggy are the only first timers….the rookies! 
Cindy (in green) Habitat director goes over a few details. 
Rick visits with Jim
     After we eat, Terry, the Repairs Coordinator, went over the jobs we have before us this week.  It is varied, but all doable!  Lots of painting, plus other work including roof repair, installing siding and insulation, organization, caulking, etc.  There is a homeowner’s association in Pagosa that was levying fines right and left for failure to maintain a certain standard.  Fortunately that has changed in the last year to a more proactive policy as opposed to punitive.  They are now offering interest free loans to help homeowners make the repairs.  Habitat is providing the man power.  The homeowner has to provide their “sweat equity” but in this case sometimes that is hard.  They might instead provide some of the lunch, etc.  This is a new partnership, so avenues are still being explored. 
     We will be carpooling to the job site tomorrow, located about 5 miles on the other side of town.  Rick and I have offered to drive the Honda.  An exciting day ahead!
     Back to the trailer to relax, catch up, and go to bed early!!!  G’night

Tuesday, August 14:
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Jim Smith's home
     First day on the job!!  We meet at 8 to carpool to the site out in the Pagosa Lakes region (by the City Market complex and Wynham Resort west of town.  Rick and I thought we were driving, and at the last minute didn’t have to, but we chose to go alone as all our stuff was already packed in the truck.  It is about 11 miles to the site.
"Walk About" to learn our jobs. 
     The home, owned by Jim Smith, is located in an open area north of the highway – just north of the massive Wynham Resort area.  Jim comes out to meet us.  Following a short devotional message and prayer lead by Mark, our team leader, we take a “walk-about” with the Repair Coordinator Terry Pickett.  Terry has a great sense of humor and ready with puns.  A great smile.   The Mark divies us up into small groups to handle the jobs.  I end up working with Jimmy, probably the oldest member of the crew, on the woodpile.  Our job is to saw apart three sections of old wooden stairs, remove the screws, and then split into small pieces for Jim to use in his wood stove.  Rick is helping Mark on the gap in the porch window moldings (Over an inch letting in air!)  Eventually that job grows exponentially until the entire section of the wall is removed, windows and all!  Rick is so good at demolition! 
Down comes antennae!
Others are cleaning out the garage (stuffed full) and a storage shed (also stuffed full).  Homeowner Jim helps those groups by identifying items he wished to keep, but it was a bit overwhelming for him!  One other group took down the TV antennae and then did repairs to the soffits in the eaves to prepare for painting. 
            I was working in the sun all morning and it was warm!  Went through two complete water bottles!  Used muscles I will feel in the morning – including hammering more screws through the board to be able to remove from the opposite side because the threads were stripped.  When possible I had a power drill to reverse the screw with, but most of the time the wood was so rotten it didn’t work.  Then we took a heavy mallet and “split” the board into two sections for firewood. 
Rick is on demolition of this porch section! 
            Morning break with goodies, and then a lunch break an hour later.  A couple from the Catholic church brought our lunch out and served it to us: pulled beef on a bun, watermelon, cookies and chips.  Very good.  By the time they arrived, the garage crew had cleared the entire area out, we set up a table inside in the shade, and all moved our chairs in to get out of the sun. 
     By the time lunch was over, the clouds had moved in.  We worked the afternoon in much cooler temperatures, and even a rainstorm or two!  Basically the garage is completely done, the firewood done, the antennae done.  Still need to repair the soffits and porch.  Painting should be able to begin tomorrow.  We stopped work around 3:30 pm.
     Quick stop at City Market to pick up some dish detergent, then back to Elk Meadows.  The skies almost look like smoke, but I think it is just rain.  The mountain outline to the northeast is stellar – nice and jagged. 
The Habitat Tool Trailer
     Showers, and then a relaxing time together enjoying ‘happy hour’.  I brought out the salsa I made for the potluck dinner Monday night that ended up not being a potluck.  It was entirely consumed and enjoyed.  Made me feel good!  Mostly everyone just ate a little and shared from the day’s experiences, and a little more about each other.  When a few raindrops started falling around 6:30p we all headed to our respective trailers. 
     I will be early to bed tonight.  I am going to be sore!  And another day of work ahead tomorrow.  But rewarding.  Homeowner Jim’s neighbor was over during the afternoon to tell us how much everyone appreciated our help and how good it was for Jim.  Evidently he has really “come out” of a recluse shell in the past couple years since Habitat has started working with him.  That's job satisfaction too!

Wednesday, August 15:
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Gathering for morning devotions
     It got down in the mid-40's last night and I slept well! (and HARD!)  By 8 we are enroute to pick up the ice (The Rose Restaurant downtown donates whatever ice we need daily as long as we bring a bag or two to put it in!) Another couple of hot air balloons are in the sky as we drive west to the homesite.  We split into three groups basically today.  Mark and Rick are still working on the porch, Colbs, Jo, Mike, and Jerry on the eave soffits, and Barb, Lori, and I remove the shutters, scrap, and caulk all day! I think I went through about 5 tubes of caulking.  I learned to cut my tip a little smaller which helped.    Jimmy provided the truck to help make a few runs to the lumber yard, etc., so he was running errands alot.  Probably good....Jimmy is 76 and worked a little too hard in the sun yesterday.  As it didn't end up being a real good day for him.  He lost some keys, damaged his canoe.  Said he picked up some lotto tickets enroute home so he could have a better day tomorrow.
Ginger caulks around the windows. 
     We are starting to get into a rhythm as a team.  Everyone went to work today - share tools and ladders when necessary.  We didn't get as far as we had hoped because the power nail gun couldn't get enough electricity for compression to work.  That would have made life easier on both the soffit and porch teams.  We three gals nearly finished all the caulking, scraping, etc.  Tomorrow will definitely be the start of painting!
     Lunch was a special treat - a full dinner meal of chicken, rice, beans and tater sauce, salad, and Tres Leches cake for dessert (with strawberries on top)  The Catholic Church has been providing all week.
No problem with the quality of the lunches! 
     We stop enroute home at a fruit stand and Lori and Jerry pick up a watermelon for "Happy Hour".  Rick and I get our showers and then start some laundry prior to that.  I cut up the loaf of sourdough tomato bread I have left, Rick lights the pilot in the oven, and we brown it up with Johnny's.  It needed to get eaten.  For the same reason, I contribute tossed salad tonight!
The soffit crew in action. 
     I moved my colorful table cloth to the "community" table, which is between our trailer and Jimmy's and is under the biggest tree in our area.  That shall be our happy hour table.  Others brought dried apples, nuts, cheese and crackers.  Everyone brings their own drink in a glass.  Tonights discussion centered on family roots for several in the group, traveling, and then a bit of politics.  That got a little more controversial as one might expect!
     A pretty sunset - mostly a pinkish glow to the clouds and then a couple of little cloudbursts as we prepared for bed.  A good day.  Looking forward to another good night's sleep!

Thursday, August 16:
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Lori paints primer over our speckled caulking! 
     Good night, although our neighbor's dog Penny decided to play with her bone at 5:30am – we weren’t sure what it was and Rick checked to make sure a bear wasn’t outside messing with stuff!  All we heard was clunk a thwap, zonk!  With the cloth sides to our trailer, we hear more than most people!  Penny later suffered, however, as she ran into a barbed wire fence chasing a cat, and got some bad cuts down her back. 
     Bears have been a problem around Pagosa this summer as there isn’t enough food in the mountains for them.  It will get worse as they are trying to “stock up” for the winter.  The berry crop was hurt by the drought conditions. 
    Back at the homesite to basically do the same as yesterday!  Lori is the only one to branch out today – she primed boards and trim all day!  Barb and I continued to caulk – every place where there is a joint between two boards!  We ordered more caulk once today and told the repair coordinator to bring ANOTHER case tomorrow!  I said that I am leaving an infestation of plastic worms everywhere in the yard!  My caulk gun continues to dribble, even though I keep pushing in the lever to stop it. 
Rick hammers in trim on the upstairs window. 
     Rick worked again in the porch for most of the day, but when it was just some finishing work he left that to Mark and went and trimmed some windows.  The soffit team is behind – but it is hard work up on high ladders.  We had a lot of trouble today with power equipment – constantly blowing circuits, etc. Which meant difficulties in making cuts, and failure of the power nailer to work. Finally Terry went next door and asked to plug in to their outside outlet.  JB just doesn’t have good power in his house! The power nailer really helped the soffit team pick up a little speed.  
     No rain today!  The skies did cloud over in the afternoon which was a blessing – it diffused the sun so it wasn’t so hot.  JB has been on site everyday – interacting with us as we work.  We left some of the lunch leftovers with him today. 
Not all jobs are glamorous, but necessary!
Way to hold that ladder, Jo Ann!
     No happy hour this evening.  We stopped at the ice cream shoppe enroute home and everyone enjoyed an inexpensive ice cream cone!  Yeah!! 
     Lazy evening of writing, drawing, reading, etc. 
Note:  I have been collecting a little souvenir everyday of my Habitat work.  Day 1 was an old rusty screw from the woodpile.  Day 2 was a bolt from the shutters we took down.  Day 2 and 3 are caulk worms!  What fun!  

Friday, August 17:
Click HERE for today's pictures 
     A light rain fell last night, but it didn’t last long.  Just enough to make me get up to check the windows, etc.  Beautiful morning with the robins again bopping around.  I haven’t seen as many hummingbirds lately, but it has been a little cooler. 
Rick finally gets to paint!  
     We are on our way shortly after 8 – Rick and I have been riding with Mark the past three days carpooling.  Cuts down on expenses, because we don’t stop to buy anything on the way home!  I do want to go to the thrift store tomorrow to pick up an old shirt to use for staining. 
     We quickly get busy today after Jim Colbs gives the devotion on Wolves!  The soffit crew has the south side to finish, Rick volunteers to go up high and caulk and prime the upper window and soffits on the north side.  The gals all set to work painting the gray on the garage and shed.  By day’s end….the soffit is finished, the garage is totally done (I did all the red trim work on it!) and the shed just needs the trim painted.  The house needs to be painted still.  We are going to split up into two groups tomorrow after devotions at the campground.  A larger paint crew to finish the house and a smaller crew to head out to Patty’s house to figure out the skirting. 
Lunch time cleanup!  And silly Mike!
     We got stopped a little early today by a fierce thunderstorm that started dropping rain.  Rick decided to get off the high aluminum ladder, especially as the winds picked up!  I was rushing to finish the garage trim, but got it done….barely. 
     Twice today neighbors have come over to say how much they appreciate the help JB is getting from Habitat and how much nicer the place looks already.  Just cleaning up the area around the house, the garage, etc. has made a big difference.  The paint is looking pretty sharp.  I’ll get pictures tomorrow! 
Happy Hour in the Rec Cabin
     Lunch was sloppy joes, cole slaw, chips, and cupcakes.  We are certainly eating well.  We left some of the leftovers with JB and took the rest to Happy Hour.  Due to the rain, HH was held in the little rec cabin.  It was just three couples today – Mark and Jimmy didn’t join us and Mike and Barb were meeting relatives for dinner.  But Colbs had bought a griddle at the thrift store and wanted to try it out.  He grilled some onions and zucchini squash.  It was great!  We ate the rest of the sloppy joe meat, cole slaw, watermelon, crackers, and a little more jello.    Seems like all we are having to cook is our breakfast each day! 
     Rick heard from Mike’s relatives that the storm that came into town dropped a little snow up on the pass!  Winter already?  It is cooler tonight – will be in the 40’s this evening for sure!  I am doing devotions in the morning, so glad it is here at the campground.  I can just bring my laptop out.  I have a scribble drawn and ready to go!  G’night! 

Saturday, August 18:
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Our Pagosa Springs team with Terry Pickett, ACH4H
Repair Supervisor
      Whew!  Back at the trailer after a hot, hard day painting!  Have had a well earned shower and feel human again!  But, the good news is, we are basically DONE at JB Smith's house - having completely painted and trimmed, caulked EVERYTHING, cut wood for a new screen woodpile, cleaned out the garage and shed, removed an antennae, and remade the sun porch and soffits for the eaves.  He was pleased.
JB Smith's finished home
     I painted red trim ALL DAY!  Basically probably painted 90% of all the trim.  Rick did the upper window and the upper bar across the north and south sides, plus a little help on the back porch door.  Otherwise, I did the garage, the shed, and all the rest of the house.  Whew!  Spent two hours or more in the morning just on the sun porch windows - alot had to be done with brush cutting into the windowpane area, etc.  But I have a careful hand for that sort of painting, so God was using my talents where they lie.  Maybe not what I LIKE to do, but we got 'er done!
     Lunch was hot dogs with a wonderful bean mixture on top, plus an apple/blueberry cobbler type thing for dessert.  And watermelon!  I made a quick call to Mom Mac during lunch to find out about Kady's visit and end to her bike ride.  Good visit.
    Rick had made a suggestion to Terry to use the extra wood to build a screen for JB's firewood.  JB jumped at the idea.  Rick thought he would be doing the construction, but since he was painting at the time, Terry gave the job to Jerry and Colbs.  Not sure they were happy with it, but with Rick's help painting at the end, they finished the job!
    Three of the team went to Aspen Springs (about 10 miles west of town) to work on the Brown house skirting - our next project starting Tuesday.  We will also be staining some out buildings there I think.
At the outdoor tables at Bear Creek Saloon - before our
order arrived!  
     After we finished at JB Smith's, we took a group picture with JB, and then JB took one of the group with Terry Pickett, our repair coordinator.  He has done a tremendous job.  I really enjoy his sense of humor and willing attitude.  I would work anywhere for Terry.
     Then Terry suggested we all meet at the Bear Creek saloon and grill for a beer and some nachos.  He found ready takers!  A congenial time together and some good chicken and pork nachos.
     Now back to relax at the site tonight.  Two days of REST ahead of us.

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