November 20th, 2011


Happiness Is A Full Wood Box

Lisa woke up on Friday to find that it had snowed a little bit overnight.

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On Thursday, Lisa moved most of the two cords of wood from where the vendor dumped it (at her instruction) just outside the front gate. You can see the wood box in the middle left, below the electric meter. At the far right, there is a pile of scrap wood pulled out from under the house during the floor repairs. A small amount of the firewood is stacked there as well.

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Besides the wood in the photos above, there is about 1 1/4 cords — the rest of the delivery — that she mostly stacked on the "dog run" concrete slab on the west side of the house. (We call it the dog run because we think it was what a previous owner used it for.) Lisa stacked it nicely and used a large piece of plastic she found lying about the property to cover it up. There's still a bit of wood piled in the front yard that we need to move to the side, and there is the scrap lumber as well. Lisa says we may be able to burn some of it, but of course not the creosote-treated railroad ties.

The firewood is all property split and cut to the right length, and Lisa has been happily keeping the house warmed up with it. It burns nicely and generates much less ash than the stop-gap load of elm we bought last month. Now we get to figure out how fast we go through a cord of wood and how the cost of $540/two cords compares to the $175 electric bill we just got for last month.

Threading Through Storms

It was a bit of a near thing last night. When I stopped for coffee at Colfax, I saw on the Kingvale webcam that it was snowing, but the Northern Sierra Chain Control Map (note: both links change contents constantly to reflect current conditions) said "no controls." So I headed east. Above Emigrant Gap, the snow started to be noticeable. But the good news is that the split-lane configuration that was in place for the I-80 reconstruction project is no more. (Those of you who drove I-80 to Renovation from California may remember the diversion of cars into the normal downhill lanes.) They got the work done just in time, it appears.

I downshifted and slowed down considerably. There was another vehicle ahead of me also going slowly. I followed it, and others followed me. There was room to pass, so we weren't blocking traffic, and indeed some cars wanted to head through at what I considered an unsafe speed, but I was happy to convoy up and down Donner Summit at 40 MPH.

Approaching Kingvale, I called Lisa and she loaded the webcam; she did indeed spot my van going past the camera. I actually stayed on the phone with her clear over the top and down to Truckee, where things cleared up considerably.

By the time I got to Fernley at about 11 PM — remarkably good time overall, considering I stopped four times along the way — and got my computer set up, chains were required over Donner. CA-20 even had the rarely-imposed R-3 (chains and 4WD required). It does appear that I could have gotten across this afternoon without chaining up, but I'm just as happy to have done it last night.

I'm less happy to have left behind my backup hard drives, given the problems I've had. I have now hope that I don't have anything to seriously wrong with my hard drives for the next two weeks, or else I'll have to make a quick return to Fremont to get the backup from the fire safe.

It has snowed off and on today here in Fernley, including a slightly heavier fall that happened just as we walked to the post office to collect the mail, but nothing has been sticking. We've kept the fire going, and are pretty comfortable right now.