Friday, August 27, 2010

Home Addition: Drywall.

This past week we were a little frustrated with the order of operations.  Drywall was delivered last Friday and they started hanging it that same day.  There were a number of little things that should have been finished before the drywallers started, but weren't.  All has been rectified this week and the walls have taken shape. 

It was fun to see how quickly the sheet rock went up, as shown in this 30-second video.  The end segment shows Richard cutting a hole in our floor for the dryer vent.  I know it is for a good cause, but it still hurts to see that new floor get cut up.

So the drywall has now been hung and two guys were here until 8 PM tonight, Friday night, mudding and taping.

Yesterday Drew, with a little help from Richard, made this cool sturdy stand to put the air conditioner condenser on.  It only cost us $20 because he reused some wood I had been hording.  See, it pays to be a horder.

It looks very nice, especially considering it will be on the side of the house we don't see much of, so it is mostly for the viewing pleasure of our neighbors.  Drew is such a considerate guy!

And in other encouraging progress, the dumpster went away!! That is a good sign because it means most of the big stuff is done. We have our street parking back, which I'm sure makes the neighbors very happy.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tour of Utah Stage 4

The Tour of Utah professional road bike race was in town this week. Top notch racers came to Utah to race the 5-stage race. It ended Sunday with Levi Leipheimer winning, but Saturday night was the criterium on Main Street in Park City. Criteriums are fun to watch because the racers go around and around a set course for a set amount of time, so you get to see them lots of times. I went with some friends up there to take it all in.

Start line

The speed that these guys descend in a pack and take sharp corners is awesome!

Local boy Jeff Louder ended up smoking the field for the stage win. We had some dinner afterward and then Jim and Shelly took a tour of our construction zone at the house. Shelly couldn't believe we are still living here during this.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Moab Solo

Last weekend I just needed to get away from the mess, the heat, and the lack of a kitchen sink.  Our rental condo in Moab needed a check since we've had renters there almost non-stop since we were down last in April, so I headed south.

Our place in Moab is nice. At this point, even an organized silverware drawer is a welcome site.

But the place in Moab really is beautiful.  This is the morning scene.

There is a resident bunny

and a praying mantis. I love them.

I was looking forward to a relaxing weekend of puttering around the place, fixing a few things,

and maybe a bike ride and/or hike.

But in the middle of the first night there, a mouse came and visited me in my bed, on my shoulder!
I chased it into the laundry room and locked him in there for the night.  I set out traps the next day, but by mid-day, no takers.  I went to do a load of laundry and...
Eeeeek!  So I captured him in a plastic container
thinking that I would humanely transport him > 2 miles away to safely release him when I went for a hike later in the day.  He was a really cute little bugger.  But first, some quality pool time.
The pool is fabulous and I had it all to myself for a couple of hours.

I came back to the condo to find that my plastic storage container was more air-tight than I had thought.  The mouse was feet-up dead.  I am a bad, bad person. Will the karma gods forgive me for this tortuous suffocation death I inflicted on an innocent rodent?

I had a beer and tried to forget about him.  When I went out that night after dark to watch the Perseid Meteor shower, I took his corpse to the edge of a field, where hopefully a bird or coyote will be able to honor his little soul.  Even though the peak viewing was a few days earlier, I still saw lots of big meteors.

Monday, I got up at 6 AM.  Let me restate that. I got up early, to go biking, by myself.   I am not a naturally early riser (major understatement), but I wanted to do Flat Pass, a 3 to 5 hour loop, and the forecast was for hot, so I knew if I didn't want to fry, I'd need to be back by noonish. 

Turns out it was really windy and there were thunderclouds already building by 7 am, so I drove to the trailhead and did the ride as an out and back, 2-hour, solitary, at-my-own-pace, take-pictures-when-I-want, glorious ride.

I spent the rest of the day cleaning and fixing stuff at the condo, swimming in the pool, cooking (with a functional stove and kitchen sink) and blogging. 

Tuesday after cleaning and a final dip in the pool, I set out for home, but I just couldn't bear the thought of returning to the mess, so I went for a hike in the burning hot sun during mid-day on Moab Rim.  It was still better than heading home.  

Moab Rim trail is accessed from Kane Creek road, which runs along the south side of the Colorado River where is exits Moab Valley on its way to the confluence with the Green River.  The first thing I noticed when I turned down Kane Creek Road from Moab was the color of the river. Wow! It was as as red-brown as the Windgate Sandstone and as thick as mud.  The thunderstorms that were in the area the previous day (August 16) and evening must have dumped hard rain somewhere upstream.  See how red the river is in this video, and notice the twigs and branches floating along.

Indeed, when I returned to Salt Lake I looked up the data for the gaging station upstream from Moab and sure enough, there had been some flash flooding the evening before, raising the stage (height) of the river about half a foot and increasing the flow by almost half again what it had been. 

Interestingly, the conductivity of the water, a measure of how much sediment and dissolved minerals are in it, initially decreased, I'm guessing because of the influx of "clean" rain water, and then increased because of the influx of sediment carried by the flood(s).

I hiked up the dip slope (bedding plane now tilted at an angle) of the Kayenta Sandstone on a popular 4WD route, looking back a the silt-laden Colorado River. The Navajo Sandstone forms the cliffs to the left.

The trail goes to an overlook where the entire Moab-Spanish Valley lays out before you.  It is really incredible. I sat for a while trying to figure out which geologic units I was looking at, really just stalling before I had to return to drive home.  I later looked up the geology of the area on my coworkers' geologic map and annotated one of my photographs to show you the incredible geology. 

Geologic units on this picture, from youngest to oldest
Qa – Quaternary unconsolidated gravel and stuff in the valley
Ti – Tertiary intrusive. ~25 million year old igneous rock emplaced a couple of miles under the surface as a laccolith and exposed by weathering in the last 10 million yrs as the Colorado Plateau uplifts.
Jn – Jurrasic Navajo Sandstone – giant desert dunes from dinosaur times
Jk – Jurassic Kayenta Formation – interbedded sandstone and siltstone from dinosaur times
Jw – Jurassic Windgate Fm. – wind-blown sandstone that forms the vertical cliffs bordering the valley
TRc – Triassic Chinle Fm. – mudstone and siltstone that has collapsed and gotten all jumbled up in the slope below me
 IPp – Pennsylvanian Paradox Fm. ~300 million years old – this is the salt formation that has mostly dissolved and caused collapse of the surface to form the Moab Valley

The cross section diagram below, from here, was drawn for a location a little bit north of where I was looking, but it explains the formation of the Moab Valley and has most of the rock units in the same place.

The Moab Valley exists because an underlying rock unit, the Paradox Formation, is made of salt.  Part of this formation has dissolved over time and the overlying rocks have collapsed to form the valley.  So cool.  Another cool factoid: the Paradox Valley, after which the Paradox Formation is named, is so called because early explorers thought it was odd and "paradoxical" that the Colorado River flowed almost perpendicular to these valleys. Typically, rivers form valleys, and they find their path by eroding the most easily erodible rock units.  Surely, a salt formation would be easy to erode and one would think the river would follow the trace of the salt formation.  The reason the Colorado cuts across this and other salt collapse valleys is because the path of the river was already in place before the Plateau started to rise.  As the land rose, the river had to keep up, and it became entrenched in its course. 

Alas, it was time to go back to reality, so I headed down and north to Salt Lake.

Home Addition: Starting to Look Like a House again.

We have semi-solid walls!

This week and last week were frustratingly slow.  We waited on multiple inspectors (electrical, structural, insulation) multiple times, as the first time around the structural guy found some nit picky things he didn't like, including needing a sheer wall between the kitchen and dining room, making us change from a slider window in the basement to a casement (This will cost us $300 and is a waste of a brand new window, all in order to make it a legal egress window, even though it still won't be a legal according to code. Grr.) and needing OSB on the kitchen floor instead of the original fir subfloor for sheer strength.  This meant our guys had to rip up the old floor and put down OSB (below).  We are actually fine with that because now the floor feels really solid underfoot.

 Once the structural inspector signed off, the insulation guys were in and spray foamed the ceilings and walls,

and then another crew came in and put bats in.  

 We even put up insulation in the basement, although we won't be finishing that right away.

We should be plenty cozy this winter watching the flames in our gas fireplace with our low-E windows and snuggle-y insulation.  The same day that the insulation inspector passed us (who knew the insulation had to be inspected?), they moved in piles and piles of sheet rock and boxes of mud.

Did you know sheet rock is a product made from gypsum, a hydrated calcium sulfate mineral?  Geology in our everyday lives.

Not two hours after the sheet rock was unloaded, another contractor was putting it up on the walls and ceilings.  Guess we'd better get our paint colors picked out soon!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Night ridin'

Group night ride last week in corner canyon. Fun was had by all. Three of the seven of us on the ride are getting ready for the 24 Hours of Moab race in October.  Gotta get those lights dialed in and get comfortable riding at night.

  Pictures never really turn out that well from a night ride, but here are a few anyway.
The crescent moon was particularly beautiful with Venus close by.

 The 47-second video is mildly cool.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Home Addition: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

It's getting pretty bad in here.  After the initial excitement of seeing all the progress while we were on vacation, the dust and inconvenience started to wear on me.  So Drew, the handy husband that he is, built this plastic wall between the construction zone...
and our living area
We made a roll-up door that we can open when the workers are gone.  Above is the dining room/kitchen. But the kitchen is also the bathroom.

and below is what used to be the living room.
This space is made all the more lovely by the fact that everything is covered in thick dust and the AC unit is unhooked.

We made a temporary office in the spare bedroom.  I thought we would have a little safe haven in there and install the window AC unit and I could lock myself in there quite comfortably, but there was a need to run a drain pipe and some venting up in the dropped ceiling of that room, so now it is dirty and dusty too.

Sometime in April they made me move my clothes out of my closet in that room  (I have mine in this room since the closet in our bedroom is tiny and occupied by Drew's clothes).  I moved them to the foyer, thinking they would only be there a couple of weeks. It has been longer than that.

The point of all this complaining is not to make you feel bad for me.  Despite the mess and inconvenience, I'm usually in good spirits about the whole thing because I am keeping in mind why we are doing this and how nice it will be after we're done.  I just wanted to show you and document this so that I can remember the yucky times when we're lounging on the deck off our new master suite.

Since we've been back it seems like things are not moving as quickly as they had before, but I think it is because they are working on electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling, and little framing bits - stuff that is in the walls and not as visible. There are also wait times for various inspectors. The siding is going on though and it looks good.

Drew is putting one coat of paint on the siding so that it is easier/cheaper to paint once it is up way high on the house.

And I've been designing and visualizing bathroom cabinets.

So now you're all caught up with the project.  Hopefully the next post will involve dry wall. That will be exciting!

Monday, August 16, 2010

House Addition: Shopping - opinions please.

We've been shopping for flooring, newel posts, and the most fun of all, granite countertops.  I'm posting a few of my top picks for the granite here in hopes that any of you readers that have an opinion will speak up and help us pick one.

Most of these are not actually granite, geologically speaking.  Granite has specific proportions of various minerals that I won't get into here.  After we pick the best looking one that goes into our house, I am going to have a bunch of geologist friends come over and we'll try to identify as many minerals as we can and classify it into which rock type it is, but for now, I'm focussing on what will look the best with off-white painted Shaker style cabinets and medium toned oak hardwood flooring. In some of the pictures you can see one of my little flooring samples.  The actual floor might be a tad darker than that. We're trying to get a decent match with our existing oak floors in the dining and living room.

So here they are, in alphabetical order.  All of the pictures are kind of washed out, but I think you get the idea.  Which do you like best?


Celestial Blue (the plagioclase feldspar in this one has a little bit of blue tint, but it is mostly gray and rust)


 I think this one is called Lapidus as well but it was at a different store.

Nobel Gold

Spectrus (I absolutely love this one but am worried that when it is cut into 25" wide countertops, some of the character will be lost and the cost would not be justified.)

Lava (in person, this had more gold and tan in it than shows in the pic)

Purple Dunes (there isn't much purple in this; there are some garnets, which are pinkish, and the gray areas have a cool tone, but overall the slab is rusty colored)


Looking back, I love each one.  Choices, choices!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

House Addition: While You Were Out

We left for Europe in the midst of a major home addition/remodel.  This was not our original plan.  When we hired a contractor in January, we thought 7 months would be just enough time to finish this thing.  Permit hassles and the usual time delays brought us to a point where we were leaving home for 2 1/2 weeks without a secure back door, an incomplete roof, and we still had our old kitchen.  After the Solitude mtb race on July 10, Drew and I packed our bags and bikes, watered everything really well, and cleaned out the entire kitchen

so that we could catch a plane for Germany the next day. I was not sorry to say goodbye to the 1980s tile and Formica counter tops.

So while we were off traipsing around Europe, the guys were hard at work building us a home.  Here are some of the pictures Adam, our contractor took for us while we were away, and some I took upon our return.

Below is the start of work on the upper deck and the rafter tails and corbels to match the existing. 

Below is more detail of the roof line work.  This is looking up from the driveway at the existing dining room bay window and the new master bathroom up top.  The roof line we were so worried about looking way too tall and odd actually looks great. A nice fit with the rest of the house. That was one of our major concerns - to tie in well with the existing house.

Here is the back of the house sometime while we were gone.  All the windows are in, but no door yet.

And by the time we returned, the house wrap was going on and the columns on the back porch were built out.

Inside, they were working away too.  The fireplaces in the master bedroom, below, and in the main new room/office were installed, as was the mantel over the master fireplace.

Below is a close up of the mantel.  I found this at George's Architectural Salvage here in SLC.  It is a floor joist from the Oquirrh School, built in 1894 and located in downtown Salt Lake City.  A few years ago it underwent a major restoration and George salvaged some of the things that came out of it.  This floor joist was one piece of history that is now in our house!   It will give the room a rustic feel that will go well with the hickory floors we've chosen.

They built up the "plant shelf" in the master bedroom.  In the original architectural plans, there was a wall here where this half wall is now.  That would have given privacy from the room below, but also wasted space and blocked light from the windows.  Instead, we had them build a big wide shelf that we will use for display or plants or something.  We hope we don't regret taking out the wall and door.  Drew will just have to be quiet when he is downstairs cooking me breakfast.

Finally the doors came in so we were secure again.

Broom/coat closet on the left, laundry space in the middle, and the stairs going upstairs on the right.  The casement windows will be really nice for catching what little evening breezes we get in the summer.

This is the broom/coat closet and laundry space.

And the most exciting interior framing they did while we were gone was the arch between the dining room and living room, which mimic the arches between the foyer and living and living and dining rooms.

But in this picture you will also notice something is missing. That would be the kitchen! Gone. Completely gutted.  Now the fun living begins.