Greetings from wet, wonderful, and buggy Wisconsin! Our crew has made a pretty big splash, with a lot of media attention. We have made some new friends here in Wisconsin, and the Forest Service folks have helped by familiarizing us with the area. Joyce McKay and Dick Crockett gave us a great tour of the Forest Lodge complex and Jason Maloney has been wonderful in making sure we are comfortable and having fun enjoying the area. If only they could magically rid us of the mosquito swarm around camp! Fortunately the dragonflies, our tents, and some insect repellent are doing their best to keep us from being eaten alive by the blood sucking insects.
After our first week in Wisconsin, things are really getting moving. One member, Kai, chose to go home for personal reasons, but we got Gabe back after his recovery at home and we added a new member to the team, Jason. We were joined for our second week by a crew of Partners In Time voulnteers. Once they arrived things really got moving. They increased our work force and our knowledge as many of them were experienced at this kind of work and were able to share some tricks of the trade. We also had a cook for one week, Sharon. She was amazing and took a bit of pressure off of the rest of the crew by providing delicious meals breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We tried to convince her to stay but the mosquitoes ran her off. We will miss her dearly.
Our job in Wisconsin is to work on the Cow Palace, a building in the Forest Lodge complex. We are working on putting on a new roof and on fixing issues in the historic log-and-board siding. The shipment of cedar shakes was late in arriving, but that didn’t stop us from getting started. We began by repairing some of the log siding that was rotten or damaged. We made splices in the historic logs by first removing the damaged portion using a saw at a thirty degree angle down and away from the house. The angle is important because it draws water away from the house to prevent further rot. Next we used epoxy and a piece of rod inserted in the back of the log to attach a piece of new log in place of the damaged bit. We then used draw knives to shave the logs down to match each other for a seamless fit. The tops and bottoms of the logs were also cut to a specific angle to ensure water flows away from the building at every possible chance. Once all the angles were cut and the log was the perfect length, we then put the log back exactly where it came from. We numbered them as we removed them to ensure we would get them back in their proper homes.
The roof has been a bit slower going, as the rains from North Carolina must have followed us up here. Despite the rain, we have removed the old roofing from a good portion of the roof, which involve some laborious removal of the staples that held the felt down. Someone was a bit staple-happy last time the roof was done. We are sure to always be tied into fall gear when working on the roof as the moss covered shakes can be quite slippery. As the removal progresses we have another group following close behind replacing the old roof with new felt and shakes. The shakes have to be custom fit by selecting the correct width each time to ensure a proper overlap, as the gaps between the shakes must by covered by the shakes above it. This whole process is much more artistic than the asphalt or tin roofs we have done before. Cedar requires a great attention to detail, as each shake must be fit for a ten inch reveal as well as a half inch gap between each shake and they must not be too uniform as it is supposed to look rustic and hand-made, not manufactured.
As work on the roof continues we have occasionally had to move the scaffolding to keep it below our work area both to provide a way up onto the roof and as a safety measure. We also use the scaffolding to help get the large amounts of shake up onto the roof, which is a job in itself. The shakes we received are not the best quality, and a large portion of them must be squared up before they can be installed. This makes the process take a bit longer but squaring them first makes installation much smoother and saves time in the long run.
Recently we removed some shakes from a portion of the roof that has been shaded by an overhanging tree. Underneath this shade, we discovered that a large section of the roof sheeting was rotten and needed to be replaced. We kept much of the original intact, and replaced what was necessary. We encountered another unexpected speed bump, as happens when doing this kind of work, while working on repairing some of the log siding. We discovered that a large portion of the outer wall and underlying frame work were completely rotten due to the amount of water that gathers in that corner of the house. Fortunately none of the rotten portion was load bearing, and Chris and Tyler were able to completely repair/replace it and the log siding is now back in place.
As far as recreation goes, there is a lot that northern Wisconsin has to offer and Sky has done a great job finding things for us to do on our off time. There is always some kind of shindig going on. We have gotten to attend Musky Fest and a barn dance and we are planning on going on a paddling trip down the St Croix that some of the locals are putting on for veterans. The area has a lot of natural beauty and outdoor activities. Some crew members enjoy exploring the state parks and the many rivers and lakes while others like to just relax and unwind on the weekends. This weekend Sophie, Kayla and our newest member Jason went on a kayaking trip out into Lake Superior and saw a few bald eagles perfecting the art of being majestic and breathtaking.
Our new Partners In Time crew has arrived, and one of our volunteers from North Carolina, Jim, has joined us once again. We are all glad to see our old friend as well as excited to meet some new PIT volunteers and we are looking forward to another productive week here at Cow Palace.