Sunday, May 31, 2009

Mission Accomplished

Our friend Pat called it a Joad Load when we pulled into her drive. I'd just finished re-reading the Grapes of Wrath and laughed because I knew exactly what she meant. The flatbed trailer we'd hauled from Logan definitely looked like it held everything we owned. And, in a way, it did. The makings of our entire yurt were stacked and secured there: lattice wall, rafters, compression ring, dome, door and frame, vinyl cover, carpet, ladders, tools, camping gear galore, plus a large collection of miscellany.

We arrived on a Thursday afternoon, and before we went to bed that night, we'd put the finishing touches on the floor Scott had nearly completed in April. Thank goodness for the longer days of spring.

Rising with the sun Friday morning, we discussed the day's tasks as we enjoyed breakfast then set to work. In no time at all, we attached the bender board designed to hold the lattice wall in place. During our practice session in Logan, we realized we would need a scaffold to support the compression ring during the roof assembly, so next we reassembled that scaffold on the center of the floor.

Quickly the lattice wall was stretched out and set in place. Next the cable was positioned in the notches at the top of each wall section. Scott lifted the compression ring to the top of the scaffold and from there directed me in the placement of the yurt's 72 rafters. It was so much easier this time than the struggle we'd had in Logan!

While Scott worked on the door, I screwed reinforcing brackets into the lattice wall then into the floor. Getting the door just right required patience. After several encouraging words and lots of time spent planing edges then resetting hinges and the strike plate, it was very satisfying to finally be able to see that door glide closed and hear it click shut. Success!

Did we mention that Torrey is a windy place? Notoriously windy? Especially in spring? This was important to keep in mind since, in very large, bold letters highlighted in a box on the front page of the assembly instructions were the words "Warning: Do not attempt to pitch your yurt on a windy day! Even moderate winds can be dangerous until your yurt is completely pitched and secured."

As Friday afternoon approached, that Torrey wind died down and disappeared. We couldn't believe our luck, so we hauled the roof up the scaffold and spread it out over the rafters. Just as we had it all in place, a huge gust of wind lifted the edges of our new roof threatening to carry it away. I had visions of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz clicking together the heels of her ruby slippers and whispering, "There's no place like home. There's no place like home."

But this was no time for whispering. Scott yelled, "Hang on tight!" Which was exactly what I was already doing since there really was no place like THIS home. Soon enough that wicked west wind blew itself out. Scott and I gasped in relief and hustled to lace the vinyl wall in place. The now-intact cover would shed any future wind. Whew! That evening, one short day after we had arrived, our home away from home was standing before our eyes.

Saturday morning greeted us with no wind. Once again Scott climbed the scaffold, this time in preparation to hoist the dome into place. Using a rope attached to it, we slid the dome up the wall and across the roof. Scott inserted springs into eyebolts in the compression ring and attached the opening apparatus. The yurt was now completely closed in. By that afternoon we had installed a large carpet remnant, we'd built a porch and fashioned a landing from three large pieces of sandstone. We'd even had time to build a picnic table. As we headed north back to Logan Wednesday morning, the yurt was basically ready for habitation. One more thing crossed off the list.

Next Sunday we plan to head back to Torrey. We'll outfit the yurt for comfort and convenience, build fence and see the start of the garage. Amazing! And it's just the beginning of June!

A Solid Foundation

During the last week of April, Scott spent four solo days in Torrey. He was hard at work leveling the ground on the yurt site. This involved lots of shovel time removing pasture grass under the stands that would soon support the floor. He spent even more time pounding duck-billed tie downs into the VERY HARD and ROCKY ground in order to secure the whole structure in place. While Scott was shoveling and pounding away, the folks at the local building supply company, Loa Builders, delivered the beams for the floor joists as well as the 1 1/8 inch subflooring.

Because we have no power lines, the only real problem was getting electricity to the site. That was easily solved because Dad was able to lend us his generator. The next steps - positioning the joists and laying the subfloor - just needed muscles, time and persistence. The final part of this phase was to accurately cut the platform into a circle the same diameter as the yurt - 20 feet. Scott accomplished this by determining a center, marking it with a nail and attaching to that nail a length of string equal to the circle's radius - 10 feet. Pivoting the string around the nail, he carefully drew a circle on the platform. Finally he used a jigsaw to cut away the excess wood producing the circular floor we needed. VoilĂ ! By the time Scott left Torrey, everything was set for the official yurt raising which would occur one week later.


Immediately upon our return home in March, we had several conversations with the fellow we hoped would build the road to our building site and install a culvert in the irrigation ditch. When all was said and done, we ended up contracting with a different person, Ronnie Hunt, who only built 25 feet of road and installed the culvert.

The reason? The local power cooperative (Garkane Power) has specific requirements for the alignment of the power line. These preclude the installation of the water and phone line in the same trench. We reasoned, rather than build a new road then immediately put three utility trenches through it, we'd have utilities brought to the site and THEN build the road. A big aha! for us. Probably duh! for everyone else. Oh well. As they say, live and learn.

At the same time, our long-time friend, Bruce Chesler, drove over the mountain from Escalante in order to do the percolation test for our septic system. (Yes, this is a rural area and septic tanks are de rigueur'. We are already personally acquainted with the particulars of such systems. Just ask Scott about the three times he's found himself up to his elbows in it replacing sump pumps leading to the drain field. Yikes!)

The excavator, Scott Chestnut, after digging 5 1/2 feet with the back hoe, hit damp earth and then standing water at 7 feet. We seem to have a river flowing under us. The implications? A few minor changes in the septic plan plus more money, but, after discussing our options with system designer Wes Jensen, and the regional health department official, John Vercoe, we are good to go.