The interior

After the rush of getting the frame up and the roof on the cabin, the construction pace tapered off. The interior of the cabin didn’t seem as critical, so things progressed slowly. I worked on tacking up insulation while Chandler and Tayler focused on the stove. The difference in an insulated cabin and an uninsulated one is amazing. With each panel I tacked up, the inside temperature raised a degree. Soon enough, I was toasty warm.

The stove was another project and not quite as quick. The little Jotul 602 stove was a hand-me-down of a couple generations, in really nice condition, but missing the sacrificial burn plates inside. We weren’t planning on sacrificing anyone, but we did need the burn plates protect the exterior stove metal from warping or cracking. Replacement plates were a little out of our price range, so Chandler and his uncle designed and cut some out of sheets of 1/4 inch steel. Chandler’s uncle Bill is a wood stove engineer, so it was great to have him check out the design and the overall integrity of the stove.

Before the stove could be moved into the cabin, we set up a hearth. We laid down a 1/2 inch sheet of Durock over the wood floor and also arranged two panels of 1/4 inch, behind the stove to protect the wall from stove heat. We offset the wall panels one inch using old porcelain knob and tube insulators salvaged from a building downtown. We used pink solid stone bricks, which came from the old talc mill in Johnson, for the hearth and we were ready to go. We moved the stove in and rearranged a few bricks so the stove wouldn’t wobble.

Lots of details

The stove

Now, we could officially move in. We hauled our sleeping bags, sleeping pads and a bed for lucy out to the cabin. Slowly, chairs, a fold up table and everything needed for coffee made its way out to the cabin.

There are a few decent sized maples that were taken down in the vicinity of the cabin which we blocked up (until the chainsaw broke) and split to use for firewood. It isn’t the driest stuff in the world, but it keeps us warm.

Lots of details

Chan chopping wood

All that was missing was a little cabin artwork, so Chan found an old poster in his closet that needed a home.

Lots of details

Perfect cabin decor

The cabin gets a roof

With snow in the forecast, Tayler, Chandler and I worked at a fevered pace. Our goal was to get the roof on before the weather got too bad. The third and fourth walls went up quickly and soon we found ourselves working on the rafters. Everything was moving surprisingly smoothly, cuts were done right the first time and piece after piece fell right into place.

Lots of details

Tayler nailing in a rafter

While, I enjoyed working on the cabin, I was not looking forward to having to actually work on the roof. I am not exactly afraid of heights but prefer to have my feet closer to the Earth. Lucky for me, I had a job interview the day the boys and their uncle planned on doing the majority of the the work. The day after they put the metal sheets down, we got a few inches of snow, which would have shut things down pretty quick.

I began work as a ski instructor and my hours on the cabin and taking pictures came to a halt.

The weather started to get really cold, but we had a small kerosene heater in the cabin to keep things a bit warmer than outside. The walls were totally closed in, but we only had three windows in the front from Chan’s uncle. The boys found some salvage windows at a recycled materials store and framed the openings from inside the cabin, out of the weather. They cut the sheathing out with a saws-all and quickly put the new-to-us windows in before the wind cooled things off too much. The exterior of the cabin was done before I knew it.

Lots of details

The cabin

Lots of details

Nice light

Next on the agenda is putting in insulation, building a ladder to the second floor and installing the wood stove. Then maybe we can hang out inside without down jackets on…

Home again, home again

November 20, 2013

Our return to the US from Colombia went pretty smoothly. Our plane was greeted in Atlanta by two German Shepherds and their Homeland Security handlers in the jet-way. After passing though that gauntlet we went through immigration. We sent up a small red flag because we had been out of the country for so long, and weren’t working overseas, so we got to go through the “special” line. All our boxes were x-rayed, but the only thing they seemed interested in was the several pounds of roasted coffee we had in our carry-ons.

We arrived back in Vermont to a warm welcome from Chandler’s family and our dog, Lucy! My biggest worry was that Lucy wouldn’t recognize us, but my fears were unfounded.

Lots of details

Lucy

Our original idea was to spend the whole day relaxing, but with the sun shining, we headed out to the cabin. We started on the structure almost exactly a year ago, but couldn’t finish as winter arrived in force. We had a lot of work ahead of us and were eager to get started.

The boys brought out the lumber out of storage and immediately started working.

Lots of details

Making a few measurements

Lots of details

Tayler at work

The first order of business was getting the rest of the wall framing done. The work was relatively easy. We framed in two walls and nailed them to the floor of the second story.

Lots of details

Two walls up

Getting ready to go home

November 14 – 18, 2013

The remainder of our time in Colombia was spent relaxing. We had one more day at the beach before returning to Santa Marta to catch a flight back to Bogotá. We had left our bike boxes in storage at our first hostel, so headed back there. Unfortunately, the power was out on the whole end of the city we were in. We ended up spending hours at a coffee shop in an attempt to upload several blog posts on a very slow connection.

Lots of details

Primary Cathedral of Bogotá

Lots of details

More Bogotá street art

At this point, we were ready to go home which was reflected in our level of activity. We had lost most of our desire to explore the city and felt content to play chess at our hostel, go to a nearby vegetarian restaurant or be at the coffee shop.

Our last night was spent at an amazing Italian restaurant that made its own pasta and gnocchi. We reminisced about our favorite and least favorite days, people and lodging. For the most part, everything was amazing and even the bad or tough times we thought about fondly.

We went to bed late, too excited about our upcoming flight back to the US! Chandler and I have a lot of plans for our return.

Ciudad Perdida Hike: Day 5

November 13, 2013

Our last day of the hike went pretty quickly. We woke up at 5am, as usual, and had a hearty breakfast. There were two huge hills to climb and Manuel had to meet up with another group, so we hit the trail right after eating.

Lots of details

Hammocks

The good thing about starting so early, is that it takes a little while to become completely covered in sweat. The jungle is so humid, everyone is dripping after an hour, but the mornings are cool and perfect for hiking.

Lots of details

Another lovely view

The two hills were steep and challenging, but our group made really good time. I think everybody was excited to be done and get a shower. Everyone had been wearing the same sweaty clothing everyday and only bathing in the river, so we were a stinky bunch.

Lots of details

Mountains

Our hike ended at the restaurant we started at and we were meet with lunch and sodas. Manuel and his brother, Juan, ate with us one last time before saying good-bye. We hope the next group had as good a time as we did!

We took a van back into town and said good-bye to Stephen at Costeño beach. We joined ‘Ashrum and Alti, the Icelandic couple, for a little relaxation. We rented a small thatched hut with a regular bed in it, right on the beach. The shower wasn’t warm, but it was heavenly to smell like soap and finally put on fresh clothes.

We had a few well deserved beers, went for a swim in the ocean and enjoyed some time on the beach.

Ciudad Perdida Hike: Day 4

November 12, 2013

We had another 5am morning, but we didn’t mind so much because we were finally going to Ciudad Perdida, the once “lost city”. It wasn’t really lost, the native people who live in the area knew where it was the whole time, but it was “discovered” by looters in 1972. It has since been protected by the government, partially reconstructed, and now hosts a permanent Colombian Army post.

After a quick breakfast, we hit the trail, crossed a stream and encountered a long, steep set of stairs.

Lots of details

Stairway to the lost city

After a 20 minute climb, we entered a grass covered courtyard. The group rested for a few minutes and than the tour began. The city had not been used for several centuries, so the guides could only speculate what certain areas were used for. My favorite was the teleportation portal. The locals would sit in a shallow, stone pit and their minds would visit other locations while their bodies remained behind. The trip was apparently aided by the use of some local medicinal plants.

Lots of details

The teleportation portal

Another interesting artifact was a large rock with many scratch marks all over the surface. Manuel said that the rock was a map of the area and displayed all the rivers. I don’t think I would use it for navigation, but it was cool.

Lots of details

Rock map

Eventually, we brought to the highest part of the settlement, which offered some incredible views.

Lots of details

Courtyard from above

Lots of details

Someone wants attention

Lots of details

Basillo’s photo of the group

The layout of the city seemed to be based on clusters of raised circular areas where huts once stood. Paths wound through the non-linear spaces between the circles. There were a few of the thatched huts in the lower part of the city, both new and old. The oldest one was somewhere around 50 years old, and was covered in vegetation.

Lots of details

Manuel and green hut

After two hours of wandering through the lost city it was time to hike back. We were headed back to Manuel’s place, where we had stayed two nights earlier. The hiking was much quicker, because we knew what to expect, but it was a long day and we were happy to see our hammocks. We spent our last night as a group chatting with Manuel about Wiwa customs.

Ciudad Perdida Hike: Day 3

November 11, 2013

We were pretty beat after a solid day of hiking, so we all slept like rocks in our hammocks. We woke up early again to get a jump start on the rain. After a nice breakfast of eggs, arepas, coffee and chocolate, we got back on the trail.

Lots of details

Worth the hike

It was a long day of hiking. The trail followed a swiftly flowing river, and occasionally pinched us out onto some narrow ledges perched above the churning water. A new suspension bridge finally led us across the river canyon, replacing a hand car which looked a little worse for wear…

Lots of details

That looks safe

We wandered through a small native village, made up of small round, thatched huts. The people were understandably stand-offish- we were just another short parade of westerners wandering through their town. Outside the village, fields were cleared out of the jungle where we saw some cattle grazing. We saw lots of pigs tied to trees along the trail. They didn’t pay us much notice though, lounging around in the shade.

Lots of details

Tiny village

Lots of details

Moooooo

Lots of details

Little piggy

We trekked along ridges, through pasture, on narrow paths through dense jungle. We weaved back and forth across streams, giving up completely on trying to keep our feet dry.

Lots of details

Waterfall

Lots of details

Chandler on a bridge

Eventually we made it to the final campsite before the lost city. It was a large camp set up to accommodate about 50 people. We were given the odd luxury of sleeping on a ratty mattress, in a tent, on the second floor of an open wooden building. We had a big pasta meal, then went for a swim in the river, which was frigidly cold. The other tour group shared the site with us, but thankfully they all seemed pretty exhausted, and went to sleep before 10 PM.