Wow! August is over and July seems like forever ago. Pete and I loose track of time so easily as it flies by. We call this the 'Alaskan time warp'.
The daylight sticks around surprisingly long still--sun rises around 6:30AM and light remains in the sky after 10PM. I'm sure the darkness will catch up quickly as fall progresses.
This week Pete completed the joinery for the timber framing of the beam that will hold up the end of the loft - running from wall to wall across the middle of the cabin. This consisted of carving out four mortises in the main beam, cutting a tennon and a mortise into both posts, and then shaping the braces. A post tennon goes into a mortise on either end of the beam, and then there is also a brace with tennons on both ends going diagonally from each post to the beam. A hardwood peg was then driven through a hole in each mortise-tennon intersection to pin it all together. He had started by milling the big cross beam on three sides and decided to leave the bottom naturally round. This gives it even more character, though made it much more difficult to cut. It turned out beautifully! I watched as Frank and Pete used their Alaskan ingenuity to assemble the pieces on the floor of the cabin and then raise it into place. Since it was nearly exactly the same width as the inside of the cabin, it kept getting wedged and caught between the side walls, falling only once due to a lapse in judgment. The dogs and I kept our distance and I watched between my fingers! It took about 2 hours to raise it and successfully level it. I'm happy to see the outer walls held their own and remained rigid throughout the process--very reassuring to know we have a strong skeleton! And now it's even stronger now with the heavy timber bracing across the middle.
Pete also installed the 2ft pony wall on top of the rear half of one of the side walls to create a shed dormer. There will be two windows up there; one on the gable end and one on the dormer. The dormer will give the loft a little extra usable space which we'll use for a computer desk and miscellaneous storage.
Once the pony wall was complete, we started raising the roof! It was quite the scene with two of us sliding each pair of rafters into place. Pete nailed up some thick boards and side cuts he milled to use for scaffolding. --though it was Alaskan scaffolding, I would consider it still safer than Thailand scaffolding! The first couple rafter pairs were slow going as we tried different ways of lifting and moving them around, but like any new project, the more you do, the faster you get. By the last couple rafters, we were pros slinging rafters around with no machines and only four hands! I can already tell the next cabin will go much faster. We are beginning see the full shape of the cabin and it finally looks like a structure. It's very satisfying.
I am so thankful that Pete has the knowledge and some background in building things. He loves to research and create--and I love to create! We work well as a team by supporting each other and communicating. This year has tested our marriage and it has only made us stronger as a team. We are happy we took this leap of faith to chase our dreams when we did, because this type of hard work would not get easier with age. We both agree that next year, when we reflect on 2019, we will laugh and probably be surprised at how far we've come in building a comfortable and debt-free life. It is not a problem-free or worry-free life, but it is a free life. All of the work we are putting into this directly benefits us. There is no middle-man or someone collecting interest on us. We believe that a happy and healthy life isn't always guaranteed and sometimes you have to go make it.
Hello, I am Melissa, owner of Wild North Design. Recently, my husband and I decided to pick up and move to Alaska. This dream has been a couple years in the making and we are enjoying the journey so far. We love to learn and make all kinds of things. From wood craft, to painting, to vehicles, landscaping, building, exploring...we love it all! We are finding out that Alaska is a great fit for our restless minds and bodies! Excited for what the future holds for our expanding family!
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