May 29 to 31, 2020
At 5:00 sharp, I was out the door, headed for my truck. Big Red was already loaded up for the weekend, and the cat had plenty of food and water. Time to head out of town!
I pulled into River Song at about 6:30 p.m. and got right to work. I had planned to tackle the tree in the river again, but changed my mind on the drive out. It was just too damp, and with Saturday’s forecasted rain, it was only going to get even more damp. And, without a means by which to heat my cabin, that could lead to a potentially miserable weekend.
So, change of plans: I would tackle Big Red’s driveway again. It occurred to me earlier in the week that I could use that big pile of dirt next to the front deck to fill in the dips in the driveway. And my shovel should be enough to level the bumps and humps.
I grabbed my shovel and filled up my one-gallon bucket with dirt. At four shovels full per trip, it would take a while to move all the dirt. But, it also wouldn’t strain my back.
It took a couple dozen trips, and I finally had all of the dirt moved from the pile in front of the cabin to a pile behind Big Red. A few minutes later, my rake had it all smoothed out. No more dip!
The rest of the driveway, however, was still humpy and bumpy. And, it was starting to get dark. But, I wasn’t ready to stop. I moved Big Red as far as I could to the low side of the driveway and used my shovel to loosen the dirt on the high side. I dug it up, whacked at it with the shovel blade, and broke up the roots and chunks until it was nicely rakeable. I’d move Big Red in the morning and finish leveling it.
Saturday, May 30
I was back at it before breakfast. I moved Big Red out to the road and finished digging up the bumps and filling in the low spots. In less than two hours, the driveway was nice and smooth. I stomped the dirt down with my Crocs, and then moved Big Red back in. The driveway is now ready for gravel. I don’t think a tractor could have done a better job! And, it took less than four hours between Friday night and Saturday morning.
I headed back to the cabin for breakfast, pleased with my work. I had really worked up an appetite!
Exploring the “neighborhood”
By the time I finished breakfast, the rain had begun. I knew it was going to rain today, so it was not a surprise. But, I was a little chilled and bored. And whiny. Although I’ve lived on this side of the state for a year now, I’m still not used to the dampness. Fifty-two degrees is not cold. At least, not in less humid climates. If I were on the other side of the state or back in Alaska, fifty-two degrees would be warm. But not here in the rain forest. Fifty-two degrees feels cold.
And, I just didn’t want to get wet. Especially with no way to get warm. Nor did I feel like sitting around reading or watching videos.
Time to go exploring! It was the perfect time to check out the neighboring villages and rivers. Plus, I’d tried using my fork for turning pancakes earlier and ended up melting the tines. I could really use a spatula. And crackers. I forgotten those, too. Crackers are nice with soups and chili.
The little store just up the road had a nice selection with reasonable prices. I picked up a box of crackers and checked out the desert section as a man came into the store. He and the clerk obviously knew each other. I didn’t pay much attention to their conversation at first, but the tone of the man’s voice drew me in. His dog had just been killed, and he was heartbroken. I listened to his story, fighting back my tears. I know what it’s like to have someone run over a pet. Someone hit our beloved little crippled kitty, Bindi, years ago, and just left her little broken body in the road where she landed.
I paid for my crackers and purple snowballs and turned to the man as I was leaving.
“I’m sorry about your dog,” I said. I was too choked up to say more. He thanked me as I headed out the door to my truck.
I tried not to think about it as I continued down the road. There’s too many sad things going on in the world right now; I just wanted to be happy and escape the madness for the weekend. I had seen a sign about a mile back that said the road ended in twelve miles. What did a road “ending” look like? What did that mean? Did it mean the road, in fact, ended, with nothing beyond but trees and wilderness? Or did it mean the county/state/feds stopped funding that portion of the road and some other agency/entity took over? For some unknown reason, roads ending–as in, nothing beyond this point–creeps me out.
As I suspected, the road did not end. Nor was there any change in road composition or quality or even a sign marking its “end.” It just continued as any normal two-lane country road, albeit with fewer and fewer houses.
After about 18 miles, I turned around and headed back. Nothing to see here. I suspect at some point it may become a dirt logging road, but I did not have enough gas in the tank nor the inclination to find out today.
The rain was pretty steady by now, but Big Red was nice and warm. I decided to head into the Big Town to check out a large thrift store that had caught my eye a couple of months ago. The county had moved into Phase 2 the previous week, so the store had been able to open up.
Sadly, I found it to be over priced and didn’t stay long. As I headed north, I looked for the logging road that provided access to the property above the bluff at River Song. I had seen it on Google Maps, but had not been able to find it yet.
This time, I set the GPS coordinates before leaving town and losing cell phone signal. And, it didn’t take long to find. I could see why it had been so difficult to spot before. Unlike other logging roads in the area, this one looked very well maintained and frequently used. Fresh tire tracks indicated it had been used some time today. But, it was still gated.
It was good to know where it was, in any event. But, the gate was unmarked. I still had no idea who to contact to gain access or even whether it was possible.
Time to continue my exploring. I pulled onto Highway 101 and turned north again. This part of the highway was all new to me. Few houses, and lots and lots of gated logging roads. I only drove about fifteen miles, and then turned around and headed back to River Song. The rain was really coming down now, and my gas tank was a little low. I should have gassed up when I was in town.
Sunday, May 31
The rain stopped around sunset Saturday night, and Sunday brought warm sunlight shimmering through the early morning mist. I felt energized! I could think of no reason to not tackle that big fallen tree. As soon as it warmed up enough, I grabbed my boots and chainsaw and headed down to the river.
I had thought about this quite a bit this week. Last Sunday, I wore my water shoes as I waded around in the river, and it was really slippery. I don’t mind so much when it’s just me, but when it’s me and a chainsaw and a big-ass tree, that’s another issue. Especially when I’m alone. And super especially when I’m alone and out of cell phone range.
I needed to do everything I could to ensure my safety. And that meant not wearing my water shoes.
I waded into the river in my hiking boots. Instantly, I could feel the difference. My footing was much more solid, with minimal slipping. It was worth potentially sacrificing my boots.
The water level had dropped a couple of inches over the past week, and the current was a bit less, too. My chainsaw bit into the tree trunk, continuing last week’s cut. It took less than a minute, and the trunk dropped into the river. Woohoo! I was so happy to see that red alder gone! I pulled it up onto the bank on the other side and cut it into more manageable pieces for firewood. There was still a sizable chunk sticking out over the river, however. But, I couldn’t get to it because of the clay bank.
Or could I?
A giant slab of rock
I wandered around in the river, checking out interesting things. Four odd bumps stuck above the water a little further upstream. I went to take a closer look. It was just an old log laying next to the clay bank, half buried in the sand. It had been there for probably decades.
And then something about that clay bank caught my attention.
It looked a little odd. The clay was furrowed and grainy. Clay shouldn’t be furrowed without a reason, nor should it be grainy. And, the furrows were blackish on top.
I leaned over and tapped it with my knuckles.
It was solid.
I pushed on it, hard.
I stepped on it.
This was not clay! It was a giant, seamless slab of rock!
The entire bank on the far side of the river is a giant slab of rock.
Holy cow! That was unexpected!
I stepped up with both feet. It was very solid.
I went back for my chainsaw, crossed the river again, and climbed the rock bank. Within minutes, that red alder was nothing but a short stump and a ball of roots up on the higher bank. Nothing stuck out over the river now.
I dropped my chainsaw on the other side again and grabbed my action camera. Time to explore the log jam upriver! The far end of the jam had a small gap between the logs and the bank. It might be possible to get access upriver through that gap. If so, then it might make for a safe portage spot when kayaking.
The log jam was a lot wider and bigger than I thought. The gap extended about 2/3 of the way through before being blocked by logs. The stack was too high for me to see over, so I used my action camera to get a bird’s-eye view. I was curious whether it might be possible to expand the gap with my chainsaw. I think it’s possible. But, that’s a task for another day.
Oh, and those logs are full of furry, brown creatures. I’m not sure what they are; they looked like tiny squirrels, but they are not squirrels. Or, at least, no squirrels with which I am familiar. I don’t think they are mice, either. They had furry, curly squirrel-like tails. Chipmunks? I have no idea. But, there were lots of them, darting all about the log jam. Unfortunately, they were a little camera shy. My scream might have had something to do with that.
In any event, I spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the river, clearing more fallen trees, and checking out that area on the other side again. And, I discovered the bank directly under my cabin is also a giant slab of rock. With another giant slab of rock under that, apparently.
Before heading home, I cleaned out the creek on the north end of the property. When I first gained access to the river, I had piled brush over the creek just to get it out of the way. Now that the fallen cedar is gone, I have room to deal with it. And, I want to build a bridge over the creek so I can access the other side when the river is high.
In spite of Saturday’s rain, it was a good weekend, and I got a lot done. Big Red’s new parking space works out really well. It’s nice and smooth, and I no longer have to use four-wheel drive. Moreover, the big truck doesn’t sink into the dirt as I thought it would.
The river through my property is now free of obstacles, and I have a ton–maybe literally!–of firewood. And, the creek is closer to being ready for a bridge.
And, I’m more familiar with the surrounding area.
It was a good weekend, and I drove home happy. But, I can’t wait to get back out there!