Lazy Days on the River

Clothes hanging to dry after a dip in the river on a hot summer day. It’s really beginning to look like a recreational cabin!

August 14 to 16, 2020

I was on the road as soon as the clock hit five. I had sixteen pieces of freshly painted trim in the back of Big Red. But other than that, no big plans. This weekend was supposed to be a real scorcher–the hottest of the year! I planned to spend much of it playing on the river.

As soon as I got to River Song, I unloaded Big Red and set up my work area. Everything was ready for the morning. I’d get an early start, and then spend the afternoon on the river. And, for extra fun, I’d finally break out that two-person rubber raft I bought last summer.

Saturday, August 15

The lower south wall trim is finally done
The lower south wall trim is finally done

That was my plan, anyway. As sometimes happens, I had a rough start and didn’t feel like doing much of anything. Finally, around 9:00, I headed out to see what needed to be done. The south wall was unfinished from last weekend when I had run out of trim. It would be pretty easy to finish it. It wouldn’t be much, but it would be enough for today. That would leave the front wall and back door for Sunday, and that would be OK.

It didn’t take long–two vertical pieces that needed only a few inches trimmed, and four horizontal pieces. And, of the horizontal pieces, only two needed trimming. The T1-11 was already cut to size; it needed only to be attached to the wall.

That’s it; it was done. But, although it looked great, I didn’t feel like continuing. However, it had occurred to me my sprained wrist would make it difficult to scale the bluff down to the river. It is so steep, I have to use a climbing rope. At one point, I have to swing over a rotted log and slide down the slope, with my entire weight suspended on the rope. It’s a lot of strain on my hands and wrists, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to risk it.

It’s still not big enough to turn around Big Red!

Instead, I wandered down to Big Red’s parking area to see what I could do to create a turnaround. I had delayed making one because the road was supposed to be closed for repair all of August. Apparently, that hadn’t happened, and summer traffic was pretty intense.

I spent a couple of hours hauling brush and trimming trees, but it was not enough for that F-150. No matter how I tried, there were just too many trees. And I’d left my big chainsaw at home.

Well, enough of that. I wanted more time to think about it and plan out how I would create that space. For now, I was hot and dirty, and I needed a dip in the river. Sprained wrist be damned! I packed up my gear, including the raft, and headed for the river.

River Rafting?

Fortunately, the climb down was not as hard as I feared. I carried my gear to the end of the spit just below my cabin and unboxed the raft. It wasn’t much, and I hadn’t expected it to be. Especially with a weight limit of 210 pounds. And super especially because it cost only $10. Even the box described it as a toy. But still, it was a raft, something on which to float.

My little raft floats with the current below my cabin.
My little raft floats with the current below my cabin.

I had a little trouble inflating it since my pump’s nozzle didn’t quite fit. But, I managed. Mostly, anyway. It was still kind of squishy. But, I was afraid it would explode if I put more air in it.

In any event, it was good enough. I pushed it out in the river and plopped down in the back.

The front of the raft shot in the air as my butt hit the bottom of the river, filling the back with water.

Ha ha ha! Fortunately, the river was only about a foot deep here.

I scooted to the center of the raft, and it folded around me like a taco. Not helpful! My butt was still on the bottom of the river.

Two person raft, my ass! Two fourth graders, maybe!

Just floating on the river.

No matter where I sat, my weight centered in my butt. There was just no way to evenly distribute weight with just one person.

I leaned back to spread out my weight on my shoulders and feet, and the raft lifted off the riverbed and began to float with the current.

So, it could carry me, after all. But, this was not a very effective paddling position.

I lowered my butt, once again anchoring the raft to the riverbed. I really didn’t need to go anywhere. Floating on the river was peaceful, and I could feel the chill of the icy water through the thin rubber. It was a nice respite from the afternoon heat. The little raft conformed to my body like a super comfortable waterbed.

View from my raft
View from my raft

I laid there for about an hour, just enjoying listening to the birds and the leaves flutter above me in the afternoon breeze. This is why I bought River Song. This made all the hard work worth it.

After a bit, I climbed out, piled my bathing supplies and laundry in the raft, and towed it to deeper water. It was nice not having to juggle a bar of soap, a bottle of conditioner, and a wash cloth. I could see the raft would have some practical uses, after all.

I left it down below, tied to a tree on the bank. No need to haul it back up to the cabin. Other than having it get blown away, I wasn’t too worried about it. Besides, I would want to use it tomorrow, too.

Sunday, August 16

Yesterday was fun. And I wanted a repeat today.

But first, I wanted to turn Big Red around while the morning traffic was light. This would make it easier to pull out in the afternoon when traffic would be heavier. And while I was at it, I ran to the little grocery store a few miles down the road for some chips and an ice cream bar. Mmmmmm!

The trim around the back door is now mostly done.
The trim around the back door is now mostly done.

Back at River Song, I cut several short pieces for the small walls around the back door. But, something was off. Every piece I cut was too long, and apparently by the same amount. It was really odd. I even checked my measurements several times before cutting. And, even though I was using my new carpenter square to ensure my cuts were straight, they all appeared to be slightly angled.

Something was wrong.

I’ve never had issues with measurements or cutting straight lines before.

My carpenter square looked right angled, but those lines were not straight. And it occurred to me I wasn’t really sure where I bought it. Maybe it was a dollar store item? In any event, it wasn’t working. I set it aside and went back to my tried and true method–using the factory cut end of a 1″x3″ furring scrap.

My cabin now blends in well with its surroundings
My cabin now blends in well with its surroundings

My cuts were now straight, but still off. And oddly, by the same amount every time.

Suddenly, it occurred to me the culprit must be that stupid metal tab at the end of my tape measure. Sure enough–I could slide the metal tab in and out. D’oh! I’ve used dozens of tape measures, and I’ve had ones with wobbly tabs, but never one with a tab loose enough to affect measurements.

Well, that was easy enough to fix! I made sure to push the metal tab in all the way as I measured each piece of wood, and that did the trick.

I made my way down to the river again after hanging the trim and spent a couple of hours hanging out before heading back to the city. My raft waited for me, still tied to the tree where I left it. It needed a bit more air, but was otherwise good to go. As I tossed it out into the river, a little tree frog hopped out. A stowaway! I took a few photos before it decided to find a new home.


It was a good weekend. I got a lot done, including some time well spent doing nothing on a lazy summer day.