Scratching out Details

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I’ve been working on details for the hovel at the White Wolf Mine lately. Escrow (finally) closes on the land today. Current plans call for a 3600 square foot structure (garage included) in the heavy ponderosa pines, with a road that snakes down from the main road that runs the ridge line, to the compound. 
Working out grades and so forth leaves me a bit concerned about churning my way out of the place with snow/ice. I can do it with 4WD and tire chains, but the objective is not to tear the road to pieces every winter and leave massive ruts. And it’s annoying to chain-up/chain-down when I want to leave the facility. There are options such as placing railroad ties seated in concrete supports with rebar pushing down through the concrete into bedrock below, to keep the roadway from rutting. The railroad ties can be bedded every few feet. It’s a take-off from the old tried and true “corduroy road” of tree trunks of yore. Or I can do military style metal runway sheets (which are slick as greased owl shit in the snow/ice) It may not be necessary to do that. I don’t have all of the engineering worked out that closely.
The property is almost all bedrock with some soil on it – and lots of tall trees. As of this writing, I don’t know whether or not I’ll have to blast rock to cut out the basement. My sense is that I won’t have to simply because of topography where I am going to site the shack.
Other structures such as a look-out tower (recommended by LSP), and so forth will have to come later if they come at all.  I have a feeling that the grandkids will demand a treehouse if I don’t have a tower constructed. Finding the right grouping of trees (possibly augmented by well-disguised structural steel) is something that I have on my list. 

To wit: There is rimrock that runs along the length of the lower property and there are pines above that which would give a treehouse a proper perch. I could use it as a hide for taking photos when no grandchildren are running around because there is a game trail that runs along the base of the rimrock. There are tricks to keeping game in the area like putting in a watering trough and salt lick in the right place and kicking out hay in the winter for the elk (which love hay, unlike deer which are more picky).

I am using a different surveyor for the topographic survey than the one that I used for the meets and bounds survey that is complete. The topo survey (grade every 2′) includes significant rock outcrops, pines over 8″ in circumference, etc. The location for the hovel is evident by topography and the placement of trees by nature. The specifics are more involved. The devil is in the details and in getting them right the very first time.

39 thoughts on “Scratching out Details

  1. A few more options for your driveway, LL:

    1. Lay heating elements an inch under the asphalt running along where the tires would track, much upside to this. Just flick on your 480V electric panel switch, and watch the ice/snow melt away before your very eyes. Downside: electricity costs are profound, $10.00/minute? Also depends on how long your driveway is.

    2. Re-circulation water pump with gas-fired hot water tank, lay plastic water lines along the tire tracks the length of the driveway, and some pusher pumps in-line as required, an inch below the asphalt, fill lines with anti-freeze, takes a little longer to thaw out the driveway, but is somewhat cheaper than electric. Higher maintenance costs, however, and any breaks in the line over time are a pain.

    If you are going cheap and using gravel, then forget all of the above.

  2. I'm sure someone like you can think of some "out there" fabulous invention for getting your car on the high road. I agree with LSP on having a lookout tower – cool! And a zip-wire – you must have one of those! Sounds like a fun project and congrats on closing. Have a margarita on my behalf.

  3. Relatively cheap alternative: forget those landscaping timbers/rail road ties. Just park a beater Ford F150 4×4 with a snow plow and salt spreader in/next to the garage. Hardly a low effort method, but a fraction of the cost of doing the heated driveway thing. Yes, the snow plow will be an eye sore, forever taunting you by sitting idle most of the year, taking up a couple hundred square feet of precious hovel real estate. But cheap folks get over this blight quickly.

  4. I know of several people who leave the "go to town" vehicle at the end of their driveway and have a beater with chains etc. to get to and from the house. I don't know if that would work for you but it is fairly common here.

  5. Love it! A proper English/Irish tower house with western accents and mid-size cannon placements would be a hit with the grandkids. Would come in handy during raids, too.

    Steep entry roads are a real problem in the winter around here. I'm not sure what the best answer is. The high-enders pave them and just keep them clear of snow. I think some have heaters in the roadbed. The heavy snows wreak havoc with that, though.

  6. Which is slicker, greased goose shit or greased owl shit. I really don't know the answer to that one. NOTICE: To any readers looking to earn a PhD in biology, this may be a terrific research topic, the depths of which have not yet been plumbed.

  7. Coconino County, AZ mandates a septic system that will cost me $25,000. I have to go that way because I'm sitting on bedrock. Leach fields don't work in this neck of the woods. The inspectors are hard core on this detail.

  8. I may pave with asphalt because the gravel is not stable enough. A lot of that depends on the bedrock issue and how much blasting might have to be done. I need to take a bull dozer with a blade to it to get a sense of that. Heating a road sounds just a bit too "dude ranch" for the White Wolf Timber and Mining Company outpost. Electricity stored from solar collection could be used if I put heating elements down. I wonder how long the wires would last given trucks moving over them? Sure, a Prius wouldn't damage a thing, but that's not how I (or the rigs) roll.

  9. Incinerator. You could use the same Thorium reactor to power the waste incinerator that you use to heat the driveway.

  10. I tend to stack rocks for the 4×4 to crawl over in my standard Neanderthal approach to problems, but may need to refine that. Or not. I'm really ok with a corduroy road constructed of logs, but when you're talking about a grade, they get slick just like PSP does, and you're back to chains (which you can't use with Pierced Steel Planking (PSP).

  11. I have considered putting a plow on the front of the Raptor for those occasions when it's needed, and then unbolting the plow when it isn't.

  12. I can fly a helicopter.

    However the mountain/canyon winds are treacherous and you shouldn't fly in that sort of terrain during blizzards. If you do, you'll end up greasing the mountainside like so many Alaskan bush pilots have done.

  13. It may come to that. And I could put a garage on the high side of the property right off the graded road on top of the ridge for that purpose. I saw a set up like that on a property in the general area of where I plan to build.

  14. I think that command detonated claymore mines are better in heavy timber than artillery firing case/canister shot. And I can go with a more "bunker" philosophy than erecting a tower to serve as a target for some ambitious b**tard.

  15. I like the idea of literally "nuking" chicken bones, beer bottles and old socks. It appeals to my sense of overkill.

  16. A big one, Dr Jim, paid for at taxpayer expense. Half a million at least, with a million potential on the back end spin-off studies.

    We borrow the money from China and it feeds a new generation of progs, thirsty for their $15 coffee and the liver and whey smoothies that somehow manage to change the weather to our benefit.

  17. And even an A-10 pilot or two. Gold dust peak looked a little scarred up last time we hiked up there.

  18. A fireplace is on the list. Maybe two. One in the great room and one in the master bedroom. Possibly a third in the basement.

  19. Can you cut a corduroy directly into the bedrock of the road grade? And concrete the same pattern for the gaps? You could die parts of it red near where you post your "Sat Cong" scarecrows.

  20. For the record, I'm not against the concept but the infrastructure and maintenance required to keep a helicopter in the air borders on the prohibitive. Flying a government helicopter, supported by you and Adrienne's taxes (alone) is a different matter. Why NOT do that?

  21. The answer to the first question is yes. It requires drilling into the bedrock to keep the logs in place — and maybe replacing damaged logs by pulling them off the pegs and (drilling and) replacing them with new logs. As to Sat Cong scarecrows – the real thing would be better (Grave of the Hundred Head style), but would that be taking it too far?

  22. If you build on bedrock you don't need much in the way of a foundation. Saved my butt on a job calling for a full basement when we hit sold rock 3-4' down.

    If asphalt is being stripped in the area (parking lots, county roads, etc.) you may be able to have it delivered for the trucking cost. If you need to haul in gravel, look into geotextiles. Keeps the gravel from mixing with substrate while allowing water to pass thru.

    You have probably already thought about integrated into the "community". You want to shed the "outsider" stigma. Join the VFW/American Legion local chapters, buy the County Sheriff and County Commissioners lunch, etc. Quick way to shed the Cali stigma.

  23. For the record, if we could designate ALL our tax money to be spent by you flying helicopters, we'd do it, just to keep Barack from spending it on golf.

  24. That would be a useful earmark.

    Adrienne could send all of the savings from her purchases of generic Cheetos.

  25. I don't think that would be too far; no. But, about the corduroy, I wasn't thinking that you'd use logs at all. As you said, they get just as slick as anything else. I meant 1-2 inch ridges cut directly in the surface of the rock, making it a very rough, high-traction surface. The horizontal grooves would then act as water bars, as well.

  26. Another thing, ask a Wildland fire Crew Boss for wild fire protection plans / options.
    Especially around your building sites.

  27. LL, welcome to off grid living.
    First I'd like to say, ogl is a slow way of life.
    You don't need a ascending/descending runway-unless you plan to fly a ultra-lite. A snake like winding driveway with short run ascending/descending parts of the driveway.
    A two stage switch station would be more practical.
    A garage/stable with solar and or windmill powered for heat and lights, at the entry of the driveway and a raptor/gator-or horse and buggy for the final trip to the house for the winter. And vise/verse for the way out to town.
    Not a great thought but just a thought.

  28. That's a good idea. Etch the rock, remove the water/eliminate ice, gain traction all at the same time. It may come to that.

  29. I've done that, but will explore it in greater detail before we break ground. A friend of mine in the oil business offered to give me a 500 barrel tank that I could bury on the property. It would allow me to inundate the structure with water and keep the water flowing (using a diesel generator to run the pump). Those plans are an option. Most of the ground brush has been removed, leaving just the ponderosas on the land. That sort of mitigation is carried on in the area with very serious intent and it helps remove the sort of fire that you'd most likely see. The trees don't burn but the brush around them is a different problem.

  30. There is an old logging road that I took photos of and posted before on the blog. That's not how I plan to enter the property. An existing road runs the ridge line and I could put a carriage house up there if it came to it. However, for the most part, I can use of two 4×4's to climb out of the hovel and up to the road.

    A slow way of life suits me at this point. I've lived fast. But in my youth I lived slow and know the difference.

  31. Well, usually it can't be done, but you're lucky to have solid rock so close to the surface. I know it complicates the sewage, but it's a lifesaver in other ways.

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