Blog August 3, 2013
Greetings from Minnesota!
Since the last posting the VHC has cranked out an incredible amount of productivity, had a few restful days off, and moved from Wisconsin to Minnesota. It’s been a wild ride! The Cow Palace, part of Forest Lodge, in Wisconsin, was an enormous undertaking. Due to weather and uncovering some very rotten roofing underlayers, we took an extra week to finish that project, but we really kicked it into high gear on the last week and finished getting the entire 7,000 square foot roof stripped, sheeted, re-flashed, re-tar papered, and re-shingled with cedar shingles. In addition, we fixed or replaced 56 pieces of log siding, replaced a bunch of rotten wall boards in the back corner, repaired the roofs of the three cupolas, and generally got it done. We all had a major feeling of accomplishment when we finally started packing up our tools and materials on Friday. There was a lot of material on that roof—we had to call for a new 20 yard roll-off dumpster six times over the course of the project, including once the very last day, and we left a very full dumpster.
On Saturday we packed up camp, said goodbye to the mosquito horde, and headed into town for some R&R. It was nice to have a pause before moving over to Minnesota. Arriving here in Minnesota was a nice change. We all got a bit of a second wind and a feeling of nostalgia, as this is our last week together. We are camped out in the back yard of a house where some SCA interns live and work doing naturalist interpretation. Their place is by a nice lake which serenades us with loon calls. Sky serenades us with sentimental guitar ballads, and Josh mixes it up by dancing to some dub-step. It’s a nice way to end our time together.
The project here is called the Birches Picnic Shelter. It is in a breezy spot on the east side of Lake Winnibigoshish in northern Minnesota. It was built in the 1930’s by a crew of the Civilian Conservation Corps. The Forest Service thought that the roof we tore off was the original, but judging from the font on the tar paper and the stories of one of the locals who stopped by to chat, we think the roof was installed in the 1970’s or 80’s. Either way, it was in disrepair and needed replacing. In addition, some of the rafters were rotting out and we dug out a lot of pulpy wood which we replaced with wood epoxy, blocks of wood, and fiberglass rods. It should look pretty similar to the original once we get them all shaped back into form. Josh and Tyler have spent much of their time replicating two of the rafters which were broken when a tree fell on the shelter last year. Today we are hoping to get those put into place so we can finish up the roof.
Although we are about to pack up and say our goodbyes, the Historicorps team will be staying on to put the final touches on this project next week. They’ve gained our member, Gabe, who is transferring from volunteer status with the SCA to employee status with Historicorps. We’re always happy when members can make those upward transitions into organizations they care deeply about. We are heading separate ways, but we will always remember the joys and hardships shared on this challenging, interesting, and personally-expanding series of projects. So long, and see you on the trail!