Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Deck demo! - Part 152

Isaac had his 7th Birthday (!!) this year on a fine autumn day.  If you define fine as a humid 90 degrees, that is. It was a wee bit hot for having fun outside like we planned, but we managed to still have a good time celebrating in the shade of our beautiful deck.


Five points if you understand this.  Also, can we hang out sometime?

Okay, maybe the deck was not so beautiful, and maybe the shade not as cool as we'd like, but in my mind I imagined what it could have been, and it was beautiful.  I've spend a great deal of the last few weeks figuring out the best way to keep our building inspector happy and keeping my imagination happy.


So, this is what I've come up with for a new deck plan.  We're going to keep the length to the current deck about the same, as we like it where we cut it off last time.  We're going to extend the width of the entire deck to the end of the sunroom, so the railing won't obstruct the window, we'll have more room for a set of comfy chairs and we'll be able to walk through more easily.  A small section of the pool will be wrapped with a raised deck.  We're going to add a set of stairs to the other side where no stairs were and we're going finally have stairs off our kitchen again.  We're hoping to have a patio area at the base of the deck near the kitchen stairs, but I don't have that fully planned out yet.

Original Deck
One of the first big tear downs
At the end of the first round of destruction, before we moved the pool pump
 We've had quite a long time to think over the plan, you know, at each step of tearing down and fixing our old deck.  I'm happy with our final decisions we've settled on.  As you can see, the deck that came with the house originally was massive.  Even if it weren't falling apart, it was more deck then we would really use, and we really, really didn't want to maintain all 800sqft every year.  Plus, with a farmers porch on the front and a wrap around deck, it was an overwhelming amount of wood deck.  Not much variety.  That's a big reason we're wanting to shorten it up and add a patio to the mix.


That, and when we brought down the deck, we affirmed we were happier with a flat ground on our side lawn. Tearing it down opened up the side to our happy crab apple tree and really made it feel more airy and open.


But we did really miss the ease of opening a gate and going right into the pool.  I loved being able to sit on the side and put my feet in.  I loved being able to jump off from the side and not a dinky little ladder.  That we're hoping to gain back with our new pool deck.

...  we also really miss being able to open the door to our kitchen.  Given that we've had no stairs over there since we tore down the old deck two years ago, I'm really looking forward to having stairs over there.  We thought of moving the door to the other side of the wall, over the deck... but with our utility locations, it's really not feasible.

black aluminum railing left, Our composite front runner right
What we haven't 100% settled on is the decking and railing choices. We're thinking of  vertical cable, black aluminum or glass balusters, in an effort to try to keep the view to the pool as open as we can.  I think added visibility that's one of the biggest pluses to having to rebuild for us.


We also wanted low maintenance, splinter free decking... so pressure treated wood is out.  We narrowed it down to Trex Transcends (composite) or Garapa (hardwood).  Garapa would be more maintenance, but I really like the idea of using real wood that can be sanded and restored as needed.  Plus, upfront at least, Garapa is actually the cheaper option . We'll see though.

Current-ish.  Around spring time.
Current.  Around late summer.

Back to our current deck.  Or at least, the deck as it was at the end of Isaac's party.


. . . at least, until about 20 minutes after it ended.  After about a hour I had unscrewed all the railing we put up.  Then with Jon's help we [okay, he] just kicked down all the old railing.


Eli working on the more robust section of decking

Fifteen minutes after that Eli and I had popped off all the decking in the "new" (and more poorly constructed) section.  It appeared they used drywall screws that only stuck in about 1/4 of an inch.

 :: sigh::


After the last section of of the new deck was torn down, our progress slowed down a bit.  The original section of the deck was constructed a lot better, and it's a bit more time to get the boards off.  Buying a nice long crowbar has helped a lot though.  We're trying to keep the decking intact so we can reuse them for a super secret future project.

It was broken before I pulled the joist "out".

One last look of the wonders of that crummy section of deck.  Our permit is pulled and material list set and ready to be ordered.  This deck project to be continued . . .

Friday, July 28, 2017

July Fun and Car Camping

Like I said in the last post, it was really nice to have some screen-free time this summer.  Lead to more adventuring and getting stuff done than I would have otherwise in those three weeks.

First off, one Saturday, Eve and I spontaneously made and painted this cute little chair for our back deck.  That way we don't have to haul Autumn's high chair out every time we eat on the deck.



It took about 29" inches of a 2" x 8", so if you're looking for a really cheap, quick little booster seat, this was is nice and easy.  Originally, I was going to add straps to attach it to the bench and straps to attach her to the seat... but I think we're happy with it as it is right now. 

Quick plans if you'd like to make one yourself.
Secondly, we made an impromptu solar oven.  It got pretty hot in there (about 200°F), but not hot enough to cook Eli's steel cut oatmeal.  It was fun to finally make one though.

And since the weather was so great, we also hit up the new splash pad and playground at a somewhat local park in Dover, NH.  The whole redo of the park was pretty exciting, and it was packed, even at 5pm.  We treated ourselves to pizza and hung out at the park for a while.


We tried to hike Parker Mountain, to find a plane crash and old mica mines... but got rained stormed out. It was an amazing and loud and really neat storm to view (you can see the line of rain on the left of the picture), but we decided to turn around...  just before Jon's phone went all crazy and told us to seek shelter.  Still hope to head back to the mountain soon.


 Instead, we headed to my Mom's house, the weather cleared and Jon and I got to go canoeing (while the kids were on the boat with Grandma and Grandpa).  They snapped an elusive picture of Jon and I together.


If you're curious, this is why I'm wearing a bandana. You just wait until I get the whole outfit done :P


Alright, and the big finale to our screen free week (and a little bit of  my birthday celebration) was going camping!  We had a hike-in site on the water of Meachum lake in NY last year, which, despite the rain, was amazing, but this year we decided to give car camping a try. Since I couldn't look up good campsite online, I based my campground decision on two books - Tent Camping in NE and Hiking with kids, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.  We went to the Bear Brooke state park and I was happy with that choice for what we were going for.

I bought a bike trailer for our hitch and I really like it. It was tough to get all our gear packed in that van though, especially with Autumn's stroller/bike trailer taking up half the trunk (our Baby Jogger Pod).

 We managed to stay dry while we got the tent up, as well as a tarp up... but just about 5 minutes after I suggested we get the storm cover on, we had our first rain.  And then it rained, and rained, and rained hard, all night long.  Last year, in NY, our tent stayed dry.  This year, not as much.

Still, we were warm and comfy at night and everyone was happy just to hang out together coloring.



The next morning though, my birthday, didn't exactly as planned.  We woke up with a bit of a damp tent, and unfortunately, one of our kids had made a bit of damp sleeping bag too.  So one of our kids got a hot shower and we hauled ourselves off the campgrounds to a laundromat and picked up brunch at a diner while the sleeping gear was in the wash.

While our stuff was in the dryer we went to Bass Pro Shops.  Turns out, even if you don't fish or hunt... store is still really fun.  We didn't see anything to help with our leaky tent problem, but we did pick up a Thermacell to help with mosquitoes.


Before we even got back to our tent with our newly laundered gear, we decided to stop in and check out the Bear Brooke archery range and course. 


Autumn got her nap in while we made it through the first 7 obstacles.  Then we decided to call it quits and come back later so we could get dinner ready and meet my parents for a birthday celebration.  I can say we successfully made brownies in a dutch oven.


Next day wasn't rainy, but it was fairly cool, so we decided it would be a good day for a nice long bike ride to the archery course to finish out the trails.  The 2.5 mile bike ride itself was such a blast, but the archery course was awesome too.  Jon and I shared my bow, Eve and Eli shared Eli's bow and Isaac had his bow to himself.









Alright, so a big part of this trip was answering the question - how do we like car camping? And well, I think it's fairly mixed.  I can't say I liked it as much as Meachum Lake.

First off, everyone really enjoyed biking all over the pace.  I think all the kids enjoyed the all the freedom they were given to bike around by themselves. Even though Isaac was tag-along bike with Jon, he still really like going on bike rides.  Eli and I already enjoyed biking together, so it was great to pair up and go as fast as we could (okay, fast as I could with a baby trailer and our gear) to the archery range.  Eve gained a lot of confidence and skill to push her over to the edge of enjoying biking.

Isaac like it so much, he even ran back from the bathroom one time to get his and Jon's helmets, so they could bike back together (Jon had biked over just after Isaac walked over).  I tried to get a picture of it, but he was so fast this is all I got.


The toughest part for me was the constant back and forth the car.  I decided to keep our clothes in the car, which was good since our tent leaked and they didn't end up wet, but it meant more trips back and forth.  The trunk was fairly well stuffed and all the coolers and gear and stuff were jammed in between the seats.  Managing everything for 6 people and trying to keep it dry was such a pain.

Cooking was an overwhelming pain for me.  Don't get me wrong, I like making certain things over the fire at home...  but cleaning there is such a pain, and I worried so much about our cooler food being cold enough and safe.

If we do this more often, I would need a much better way of storing and sorting our stuff.


Which leads me to point #3 . . . I barely sat down and relaxed.  There were a couple times, like early morning, sure, but the majority of the time was either cooking or watching a toddler... and keeping her away from dangerous like fires and knifes and axes, as well as the more normal things like mosquitoes and other peoples food.

All and all, I liked the hike-in site in NY more, as we were more self sufficient at our site and there was a lot more down time, since the place we wanted to be most of the time was where the view was... right at our campsite.



Anyway, of course, the day we were leaving was the warmest and nicest, so after we packed up our campsite we hung out at the beach for a while.


Bye Bear Brooke!