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The Cabin - Part 2

After the debacle of falling a tree across the highway, I opted not to cut any more on my land. I got a cutting permit from the Forest Service and the location was up Boulder Creek Road on the way to Conconully. I had an old Chevy half-ton pickup with coil springs and it would take many journeys to gather the materials for the 12 by 14 cabin I envisioned.

With some stock on hand I attempted to connect two pieces with the notch that is seen on most log cabins. Of course I failed. I had a fallback from a book called New Way of the Wilderness by outdoor guru Calvin Rutstrom. Using his more simple method, you make an L with vertical 2x6s, cut the log ends flat and with heavy nails drive through the 2-bys into the logs on each corner. This simplifies building immensely, as well as eliminating the humiliation of making square notches for round logs as I did with the practice attempt.

photoAfter 42 years, despite my best efforts, the cabin still stands. Photo by Bob Spiwak

I don’t remember how may logs I got and cannot count now because the cabin is mostly buried in snow. It was a lot of trips filling the pickup with mostly four-inch logs: 16 feet long for the sides and 14 feet for the ends of the edifice. I went for logs every day. I used a drawknife to get the bark off most of them. I owe the train wreck that is my back to peeling all those logs.

The crowning piece was the ridgepole. I wanted a porch where the building faced the pond, one on which I could escape the summer sun, watch it set from my rocking chair or, equally satisfying, just watch the snow falling with coffee bubbling on the iron cook stove inside. I decided I needed 18 feet of ridgepole, which can cause concern when using the ten-foot bed of the pickup with the tailgate down. I attached the long pole to the wooden bed with permanent cycle tie-downs, and then filled the remaining cargo space with logs. The long pole tended to drag at times on the gravel road.

This was not an issue as there was adequate footage to have some ground off on the gravel, but a crisis arose when I came down the hill at the ballpark. As mentioned, the truck had coil rear springs, which were sagging. Just before making the turn onto the highway, the ridgepole got caught on the higher surface of the Chewack (sic) road. The wheels were barely on the surface and the truck would hardly move. I backed it up to where I again had traction, added more distance, and diagonally crossed the upper road and was able to drag the thing onto highway 20 and homeward.

After I unloaded everything including the ridge, which now had a flattened point on the back end, I called my buddy and he came that evening and we began the task of putting all the pieces together.

There had been a burglary at the red house near the bridge and a water tank and refrigerator had been taken. Remember, this was in the early 1970s when the Move-to-the-Wilderness mentality was high. I had a cast iron stove here and I got nervous about its being snatched. So, once we had the floor of the cabin down, Dan and I laboriously inched the appliance onto the floor and ultimately built the structure walls high enough so it would take a crane to move it. That was the end of that year’s cabin endeavors, must have been 1972 or 73.

We began the following year with the roofing. Back home in Everett, there was a beautiful couple I knew well. Bill Baker was almost a Robert Redford look-alike and he had a gorgeous wife named Judy. Judy had run for city council the preceding autumn and I really don’t remember whether she was elected. But she had a lot of 4x8 floor plywood campaign signs. They were available for the taking, thanks to her campaign manager. With red, white and blue ten-inch letters they proclaimed, “Judy Baker - Council Position 5.” Thus was, and still is, visible as the ceiling. One witty friend said he envisioned me sitting in my rocker thinking of beautiful Judy in position 5.

In the finale, Part 3, we’ll meet Peter and Petunia Packrat and the joys of log cabin life.


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