Hammock Arbor

For several years now, I've been wanting to build an arbor in the back corner of our yard and hang a hammock on it. This past week I finally decided to tackle the project.

Last Saturday I dug two of the biggest post holes I've ever dug: a little over three feet deep and a foot in diameter.

I decided to use concrete form tubes for these posts, for no particular reason. I've never used them before. Seemed like a good idea at the time!

My friend, Chris, came over on Monday and helped me mix the concrete and set the posts. The next day I backfilled the holes with a couple extra bags of concrete.

I copied the style of the other arbor in our yard, except I used larger lumber for this one. The hammock requires about a fifteen foot span and it will provide a pretty hefty side load.

I traced the design from the other arbor and used the paper template to draw on the new boards. All I had to work with was a little jig saw that wouldn't go all the way through these big timbers, so I had to trace the pattern carefully on both sides and make my cuts from both sides as well. It was a little tedious but it turned out fine in the end.

My dad came over last night to help with the hard part: hefting the big 18 foot 4x6s onto the top of the posts and securing them with massive decking screws. Luckily David Z was also there to help out. It was a three man job.

The last step was attaching the 2x2s to the top of the beams. Karen Z brought over their tall step ladder, which proved crucial. With the help of my dad and Micah H, we got it done this morning.

I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out and I couldn't wait to take it for a test spin!

I always wanted to have nice soft tall grass growing under the hammock, so when we put in our lawn a couple years ago I planted the extra sod in this corner. I'm going to have to coax it to spread under the hammock a little more, but I think it will provide a nice floor.

Sunday afternoon naps should be even better from here on out!

California Aircraft Expo

The California Aircraft Expo came to San Carlos Airport this weekend. We went to check out (shop for?) the new 2014 airplanes.

Cessna was there with the Caravan and the Corvalis. Cirrus had their SR22T. Lancair was showing the Evolution. The Piper Meridian was on display. And my personal favorite, the Pilatus PC-12NG.

I noted that four out of the six airplanes on display were single engine turbines. That definitely feels like the future!

Also noticeably absent was Beechcraft. Apparently they have a 3,000 foot runway minimum. Lame!

Vancouver And The San Juan Islands

Sophia's sister, Adeline, ran the Vancouver Marathon this past weekend (yes, just six months after giving birth to little Henry!), so the whole family decided to go up there and support her.

Our plan was to fly to Bellingham, WA, stopping in Florence, OR, for lunch. We couldn't fly across the border, because Max and Luke don't have passports yet. Luckily Bellingham is just 20 miles from the border, and the kids could cross the border by car with just a copy of their birth certificates.

Unfortunately, Max's bladder had other ideas. Right as we leveled off at 10,000 feet, he announced that he needed to use the bathroom. So, we canceled IFR and descended into McClellan Airfield. I waited in the plane with Luke while Sophia helped Max.

Thank you, McClellan Jet Services, for accommodating our pit stop

After that we resumed our journey to Florence, passing right over Lake Shasta and very close to Mt. Shasta.

How could I be mad at such a cute little copilot?

Before too long, Max's bladder struck again and we found ourselves on the ground in Medford, OR. After that delay, we decided to forgo lunch in Florence and head straight to Bellingham. Command Aviation took great care of us there and we quickly loaded our gear from the plane into our rental car and hit the road. Before long we made it to Vancouver, where we checked into a hotel room with a lovely view of Stanley Park and English Bay.

The next morning I picked up David and Karen at Vancouver Airport and we all went for a scenic walk through Stanley Park.

Max dubbed these statues "The Silly People"

Later that evening, Matt, Adeline, and Henry arrived. We all rode the gondola up to the top of Grouse Mountain. The view was spectacular!

On Friday we drove to Whistler. We made a couple of stops along the way.

Our first stop was at the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. I remember going to this park as a kid, but it has changed dramatically since then. It's no longer just a bridge. There are lots of other exhibits and things to explore.

The famous suspension bridge

They now have a system of treehouses connected by bridges, just like the Ewoks!

For our next stop, we hiked out to the Point Atkinson Lighthouse. It was a great place from which to view the city and a fun hike, despite our getting lightly rained on.

In Whistler, we had fun playing in the Olympic Park. Matt did some mountain biking as well.

On the drive back to Vancouver Saturday morning, we stopped at Brandywine Falls and Shannon Falls.

Brandywine Falls

Sunday was the day of the big race. Adeline finished the marathon like a champ, despite cold and rainy weather the entire time! I was impressed. We walked to two places along the route to cheer her on.

Go Adeline!

On Monday, everyone headed home. We decided to spend a few days relaxing in the San Juan Islands instead! The flight from Bellingham out to Friday Harbor was gorgeous and only took about 20 minutes in N4WR. A ferry was leaving port just as I made my base-to-final turn over the town.

The tower is closed but we saw a few commercial flights

Instead of getting a taxi to our condo, we just loaded all of our bags onto the stroller and walked into town. It was a little less than a mile.

After dropping our bags off at the condo and getting some recommendations (and a loaf of fresh baked bread) from our AirBnB hostess, we walked down to the port for dinner. It was a beautiful evening.

On Tuesday we went whale watching. Unfortunately we didn't see any whales, but we did see seals (one eating an octopus, even), porpoises, and bald eagles. We had a great time. Since we didn't see whales they gave us vouchers to come back for free. We'll definitely put those to good use! We already want to go back.

Max found a perfect viewport

As we were entering Friday Harbor, we got to watch this Kenmore Air Beaver on floats take off. So awesome!

We spent our last full day exploring Orcas Island. We flew over there in N4WR and walked around Eastsound all day.

The rocky beach was perfect for Max, whose favorite pastime is "throwing rocks into water"

I used my GoPro on the way to Orcas Island and back, and I made a video of the flights. It's a little long, so I won't be offended if you don't watch the whole thing. Especially since that means you won't see my horribly off-center landing at Friday Harbor Airport.

Our flight home on Thursday was into heavy precipitation and instrument conditions for almost the entire flight. We also battled incredibly strong headwinds most of the way. It took us over 5 hours total, with a lunch stop in Corvalis, OR. To further complicate matters, President Obama was in town so there was a POTUS VIP TFR (how's that for alphabet soup?) that almost included Palo Alto Airport. We couldn't even fly the usual GPS approach into runway 31 without busting the TFR. Luckily the clouds permitted us to get radar vectors in our descent beneath the layer and we flew a visual approach into runway 13.

Not my most scenic flight. This is all we saw for over 3 hours.

On the bright side, Max's bladder cooperated this time. Good thing, too, since diverting in that weather would not have been as easy as it was on the way up.

We had a fantastic trip and we can't wait to go back!

Chicken Coop

Our backyard chicken coop has been mostly done for many months now, but I wanted to put some finishing touches on it before I wrote up the project on my blog. Well, just last week I found the time to finish it off, so here goes.

The coop build started about a year ago. As usual, I had a picture of what I wanted in my head and I made some rough drawings on paper as a sanity check. Then I started digging holes in the back yard.

I trenched out the perimeter, so that the hardware cloth on the fence would extend under the ground. Hopefully this will make it harder for predators to dig their way in. I dug twelve post holes and started building the perimeter fence.

Once the fence was complete I moved on to framing the hen house. I wanted the hen house to sit atop the run on the corner closest to our house, so that it would be visible from our back door and accessible on two sides.

Next up were the two gates. Since the top of the run was going to be covered in hardware cloth as well as the perimeter fence, I decided to build a large gate of sorts into the roof. This allows me to raise a big section of the roof and gain access to the run without crawling on my hands and knees through chicken poop. I also built a more conventional gate in the perimeter fence.

It was around this time that we decided to buy some chicks. Surely the coop will be done before they're ready to move outside, right? Right? We got four little chicks in Half Moon Bay: two Brahmas and two Rhode Island Reds. Max thought they were pretty cool.

Shortly after buying the chickens, we took off on our trip to Yellowstone. Luckily, David Z was more than happy to chickensit for us. He became quite attached to the chicks and had a hard time giving them back to us!

David trained all four to jump up onto his shoulders

As you can see, the chickens were growing very fast. Finishing the coop became an urgent matter. We painted the fence white and attached the hardware cloth. I put up the plywood walls and roof on the hen house. Max thought that was pretty cool, too.

The coop wasn't complete, but it was livable, so we introduced the chickens to their new home. One third of the floor of the hen house is open for a ramp down to the run. Since the roof of the run still wasn't entirely covered, I put some plywood over that portion of the floor, trapping the chickens in the hen house for the time being.

On one side of the hen house I wanted those large double doors, so we could easily reach inside the house to clean it out or grab chickens. The other accessible side was for the nesting boxes. I took off that wall, cut a hole in it, and built a new wing on the house. It is divided into three nesting boxes and has a hinged roof for easy egg harvesting. Sophia had the brilliant idea of cutting the back wall of the nesting boxes in half and adding hinges to that wall as well. This makes it very easy to lift the lower half of the wall and clean out the boxes.

Everyone helped out painting the hen house. Sophia picked the color.

After the paint came the trim and the roof. I used a bunch of old redwood fence boards from a fence that I removed from our back yard a few years ago. Under the fence boards is conventional roofing paper. For the nesting box roof, we found some flexible roofing tape to go along the hinged edge. I think the whole thing is pretty water tight.

And that's how our coop remained for a good long time. There was one more thing I wanted to do before calling this project complete, however. Karen Z had brought over some old pickets that she picked up at an estate sale months ago. I finally got around to attaching them to the perimeter fence.

To paraphrase the late, great Roger Podacter: "Those damn chickens live better than we do."

Shelter Cove

There's a "NorCal Meetings" thread on BeechTalk which I follow closely, wherein Beechcraft owners in my part of the world coordinate spontaneous flying trips and meet each other at fun destinations. The most popular destination is Shelter Cove, a tiny coastal town about 50 miles south of Eureka. This incredibly remote town (they don't refer to the area as "The Lost Coast" for nothing) features a picturesque airport on a tiny point jutting out into the ocean from sheer cliffs. All the houses on the hill are cut from the same mold: the wall facing the ocean is covered almost entirely by windows, from the floor to the vaulted ceiling. And in front of that wall is a huge viewing deck hanging out over the steep terrain. Aside from the homes and some fishermen, there isn't much there. This is, after all, one of the only short stretches of the California coast that Highway 1 doesn't follow closely (it's a windy 20 mile drive inland).

I've been wanting to join my fellow Beechcraft owners at a gathering in Shelter Cove for a couple of years now, but our schedules never seem to line up. A bunch of them flew up yesterday, and once again we were unable to join them. After checking out their photos and videos of the trip I decided that I'd had enough already! We decided to go up today for lunch. Thank goodness for paternity leave.

We took off from Palo Alto at noon and landed in Shelter Cove just after 1pm. Good job, N4WR! This was our two-week-old baby Luke's first flight. He slept through the entire thing like a champ! Max also fell asleep on the way to the airport, slept through the transition to the airplane (in his car seat), and didn't wake up until we were about 15 minutes from Shelter Cove.

The General Store and Delicatessen

Naturally we were all hungry by the time we landed, so we headed over to the deli for some delicious fish and chips and fried clam strips.

We found a nice spot to eat.

After lunch we looked into the local fishing industry.

We also explored the old lighthouse from Cape Mendocino, which was dismantled and relocated to Shelter Cove in 1998. It was built in San Francisco in 1867.

From there, we walked down the stairs to the ocean to see what kind of life forms we could find in the tide pools (the tide was way out). The snails were Max's favorite.

The flight home was a little quicker due to some tail winds. We also got a great tour of San Francisco and the entire peninsula from 2,000 feet, where ATC kept us due to busy airspace above. As we overflew SFO, we saw all 4 runways in use with parallel landings on 28R and 28L just as we passed by. Pretty cool! This was definitely a trip we will be repeating.

« »