Roughing It – Week 3

November 11, 2019 – Monday

Today, was another foggy, cold, but beautiful day.  Yesterday (Sunday), our logger friend dug the trench for our power and water pipes, but since my travel trailer is on one side of the trench, and my car and truck are on the other side of the trench, he placed two logs next to each other to form a temporary bridge for me to cross on foot.  Let me tell you, walking across the logs, which I’ve named “The Bridge to Heaven”, at 5 AM in complete dark and a thick fog, was interesting to say the least.  But no worries, I am a rough and tough mountain man by now, right?

After crossing The Bridge to Heaven and walking down our long driveway with a backpack on my back, a flashlight in one hand, and my 9 mm in the other hand, I made it to where I had parked the truck and car.  Put my backpack in the car, and pulled the truck out of the driveway so our friend can finish the trench today (Monday).  Got in the car and headed to work without any issues.

Skip through the day and return home after work.  Right away I was greeted by the view of a completed trench, ready for me to lay the pipes and get things rolling as soon as possible.

But then the reality hit.  Let me explain.  The trench starts about 600 feet up, on the north side of our driveway, but since the power pole is at the street on the south side of the driveway, it has to cross the driveway in a way that will minimize the angle of bend for the pipes.  This means about 100 feet of trench going across the driveway at an angle.  The problem is, our logger friend didn’t make a second bridge for me. That meant I had to go up a hillside filled with blackberry bushes, and very uneven trail, in almost complete dark, in the clothes that I wear to work, and only with a flashlight to guide me.  Now you see why I was a bit… dismayed?

2019.11 Trench

It took me about 15 minutes, but I finally managed to get up the hill to the travel trailer.  After checking for any bugs and stickers and changing my clothes, I started the generators and looked around to see if I had any lumber that could be used for a bridge at the bottom of the driveway.  I did not want to repeat climbing the hill side again tomorrow.  I found a piece of 2×6 that looked long enough to go across our 4’ wide trench, so I grabbed it and headed down the hill like I was a rough and tough guy and owned the world.

Well, life has a way of putting you in your place.  As soon as I laid the 2×6 across the trench, I realized it was a bit short.  It bounced once and slipped into the ditch. I thought about retrieving it, but then I realized, there is no way for me to get out of the trench once I’m in it.  Back up to the top of the driveway I went to find a larger piece of lumber.  But this time I was smart about it.  Instead of pretending to be a tough guy, I started the tractor, put two longer pieces of lumber on the bucket loader and drive down to the planned bridge site.  I laid the lumber across, and did a test walk.  Success!

Fortunately, before I got back on the tractor, I remembered I was low on fresh water, so I turned on the water down at the road to let the fresh water tank fill up on top.  I drove the tractor up the road and parked it out of the way above the travel trailer’s pad.

After about 10 minutes, the tank was full and it was time to go down the hill, shut off the water, and empty the hose connecting the water meter to the fresh water tank.

Let me tell you, walking down the driveway with just a flashlight, in complete darkness, in our area is a bit unnerving.  Especially that a couple of days earlier we had a confirmed mountain lion paw print up our driveway and the ever present pray population for the mountain lions.

I wasn’t even halfway down the driveway when suddenly something jumped over the trench into the driveway and with one more jump was across the driveway and into the bushes.  Our driveway is at least 14’ wide, the trench is more than 4’ wide, and the pile of dirt running the length of the trench is at least 6’ wide.  To put it in perspective, this thing, with two jumps, cleared almost 24 feet.  Now you can understand why my heart stopped.  I quickly raised my gun and pointed it towards the bushes only two see a deer looking back at me through the bushes, trying to stay still so I don’t see her.  I lowered my gun, but kept the flashlight on her, enjoying the view.  I was about 20 feet from her and she just stood there looking back.  After a few seconds, she slowly walked away and I lost sight of her.

2019.10.11 Deer
(different deer, different day)

Turned off the water at the bottom of the road, and turned on the drain valve for the water to flow back out, then made my way back up the road, crossing the trench over my newly constructed heavy duty bridge (or so I keep telling myself).  By now, I was cold, tired, and in need of some food and a warm shower.  But the shower had to wait until my batteries were charged so the water heater could work long enough to get me the warm water I needed for the shower.

I guess all things considered, it was another beautiful day in paradise.  We’ll see what tomorrow has in store for us.  Until then….

November 13, 2019 – Wednesday

After working a full day, I returned home to a strange sight.  Right by the trench, next to where I had laid two pieces of 2×4 as my bridge across the trench, I could see there was a post stuck into the ground with a box stock to the top of the pole.  The writing on the post read “Be safe, A and L” (neighbors).  Then I realized there were two pieces of 2”x8”x10’ lumber put very neatly across the trench as a bridge for me.

I didn’t know what to say or think.  I lived in southern California for over 35 years.  In most places I lived, I barely knew any of my neighbors or even talked to them much.  But here I am, a completely new resident, and after a week the neighbors whom I had met only once, a couple who had no reason to care for my well-being, had taken the time to bring lumber from their home about ¼ mile away to make me a bridge across the trench so I can cross safely and make my way up the road.

I know most people in urban areas (including me) would think “what the heck were they doing in your driveway?”

Well, A and L had told us that ever since they knew we were preparing to move in they have been walking the property once or twice a week to get some exercise and to make sure everything is ok.  In the past, there have been occasions when trespassers had entered our property to hunt or to take some of the extra logs laying around. Our property was logged before we purchased it, so there are plenty of logs left behind to be used as firewood.  So I guess that’s how they came across my questionable little bridge made of a 2×6 and a 2×4 across the trench.

To say I was moved is an understatement.  This is one more reason we love being here. We are surrounded by beautiful nature and wonderful people who care for one another. I had heard of people in rural areas coming together to help each other in times of need, even when they were not asked, but I had never experienced it first-hand.  Let me tell you, it feels great.  I don’t know when or how, but I will definitely make sure I return the favor, or pay it forward when I get a chance.  Once again, life is wonderful in the country.

November 14, 2019 – Thursday

After talking to our PGE project manager and reviewing the drawings, I went online to check the price of the parts I needed to lay in the trench that will supply power to our house.  Our drawing specifies 36” sweeps at two different diameters.  The 2” pipe size for incoming power line from the pole to the transformer, and the larger 3” pipe from transformer to the meter and anything after the meter.

Found out the price for one 2” sweep, at 36” radius of sweep, is minimum $240.  For the 3” sweep of the same diameter, it is $420 each.  Needing 4 of the 2” and 5 of the 3” sweeps will cost me, just for the sweeps, $3060.  Add the pipes for another $1800 will cost me almost $4900 just to lay the power pipes.  In addition, I will need caps, meter base, circuit breaker box, and the pull rope in pipes, for another $700.  Add to that $4000 we paid for the 600’ trench, and almost $7000 we paid for the design, installation, and inspection of the power line in the pipes, and we reach a grand total of $16,560 for just the power to be installed, not including the labor of laying the pipes that will be supplied by me.

So, needless to say I sent an email to the PGE project manager to see if we can at least get some relief on the size of the pipes and the types of sweeps to be used. That could save me a couple of thousands.  I will keep you posted.

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