Trip #6:  December 2 – 9, 2023

Saturday, December 2, 2023

We departed home at 0115 in a light spotty rain, with fog throughout the trip but not affecting travel.  We had two stops on the way:  Gandolfini (which, according to signs, was closing Monday for at least six months for renovations), and a Hardees somewhere in MD off Ocean Highway.  There was heavy traffic on DE-1, not helped by the fog, and we were happy to get off on 301, which we pretty much had to ourselves.  I hate DE-1, and, frankly, Delaware in general. (Sorry, Prez.)

It was 60 and gray at the Lodge, and all was in good shape after our fairly brief absence.  The usual:  unpack, check the place out, play with the dogs.  I dozed off briefly, but the dogs weren’t having any of it.  The internet/cable construction had happened in our absence, with the supply led to a new little standpipe halfway up the driveway.  We had an installation appointment for Sunday morning to complete the job.

After our traditional–but early–arrival dinner at El Maguey, we were in bed by 1830.  Tired.

Sunday, December 3, 2023

50s and light rain showers.  Found two dead mice in the shower, plus a spider cricket, or as I call them, Mexican Jumping Beans.  I’m not a fan of these things. From 0745 to 1230, I worked in the office to remove the old paneling and trim.  This required cutting carefully around the heat pump.  I’d asked Aaron back in October about removing this unit, but it sounded like a big thing, so we’ll just work around it.  I also removed the closet shelves and wall.  I put all this in the truck for disposal at our friendly neighborhood dump.

At 0900, Lauren from Spectrum arrived, and took till 1230 to complete the internet installation.  Speeds:  over 300 down, higher than 10 up.  Fantastic.  We led the cable to the utility closet opposite the bathroom, which she could get to from the attic, and which seemed a good central location for the router.  She didn’t do a great job with the cable at the little standpipe:  the top wouldn’t fit back on because she just led the cable in without removing any of the knockouts to give it clearance.  Clearly a newbie, working on Sunday and all.  This wasn’t a big deal and I had a plan for fixing it later.

Once she was done, we took the debris to the dump, then went to down for a trip to the hardware store (crowbar, etc.), Food Lion (frozen pizza, drinks–a cluster as usual, always slow and lackadaisical there), then Hardees for a chicken sandwich.  On this short trip, we didn’t plan a lot of home cooking.  Home around 1400, after which I removed some of the remaining framing from the office with my new crowbar, vacuumed up stuff in the walls, removed the old plastic vapor barrier.  I finished up around 4, cleaned up, and enjoyed our frozen pizza.

Monday, December 4, 2023

Clearing and low 50s, calm.  IT turned into a nice day, sunny, with highs near 60 in the afternoon.  I got some stuff ready for Thornton Services, which was due around 9 to begin the heat pump installation–the main reason we had come down now.  Chris Kilgore and a helper arrived on time, and started with the heat pump over the dining room table.  We knew this would make a mess (concrete walls), but they did a good job containing it and cleaning up afterwards.  We left them to their business and headed out on some errands:  Walmart for a shop vac and some minor food and such.  On the way back, we stopped at the little taco truck in Belle Haven and had gorditas–absolutely excellent.  A long wait since it was busy and everything was made to order, but totally worth it.

Back home, we did some cleanup when the crew moved outdoors.  They’d run into tough cutting for the 3″ hole required for the installation:  apparently there were three pieces of rebar in that little spot.  They said they’d ruined their special bit in the process, which meant the second unit in the bedroom would have to be installed next time, which would be Wednesday since the owner’s wife had died over the weekend, and the whole crew was off on Tuesday for the services.  This was all fine, except we’d hoped just to have one day of the messiest work.  No problem.

During the afternoon, I removed trim from one of the kitchen windows to see what the framing was like.

After a bit of verbal and texting work on my part, I finally got Tony Melody to commit to come by and look at the roof.  This stretched back months, and while he was always good with responding, we just hadn’t been able to connect.  He arrived just before sunset (1600), with enough light to check things out.

Our gourmet dining for the week continued with mac and yac and hot dogs.  We put a flannel duvet on the bed and it felt good with a cool night ahead.

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Frost on the fields in the morning, but not around the house, where it was too protected by trees.  Went out to Hardees for a biscuit.  Back home after some computer work (yay, we have good internet), we decided to go out and work on vines along the driveway.  There were some lingering vines that were large in diameter that Heidi hadn’t yet cut.  With a small hand chainsaw and some other tools, we worked to cut these away and clear the trees.  Now, all the big trees along the driveway–and most others that matter on the property–are free from vines at the bottom, and we could already see the vines high in the trees dying as a result.

We sat and enjoyed the weather for a time, and as we were soaking in the view Matt Mabalot arrived a bit early for his appointment, which was good.  We discussed the electric for a while, and decided on a new replacement panel, service wire, and meter box.  We like Matt.

Afterwards, I dumped the stuff we’d cut earlier (into the trailer) and was putting tools away when I found the left rear tire on the tractor was coming loose.  This one had been oddly modified with through bolts securing it to the hub, versus the usual studs.  It’s how it came to me.  Two of the six bolts had lost their nuts, and the others were all loose.  I tightened the four, and removed one bolt for sizing so I could buy replacements.  I spent the rest of the afternoon doing various computer stuff.  It was chilly, and we had the office heat pump going (the new ones weren’t yet ready), and some baseboard.  El Maguey takeout for dinner.

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Overnight I had an email from Gary Ulmer about the windows.  He gets good credit for remembering I’d told him we’d be back in December.  We set up an appointment for him to come by Friday at 0900.  Further to this end, I removed more window trim, this time from the north utility room window, to ensure we knew for sure what our new window sizing was to be.

The Thornton crew was back around 0840.  As Matt had asked me, I told Chris to leave extra wire in the panel when they put in the new breakers to allow the panel to be replaced later.  Again, we chose to leave the installation guys to themselves, and headed out for a driveabout around 9.  We went to the hardware store for new nuts for the tractor, and some insulation for a small part of the office ceiling.  Drove through The Peacefuls, an arrested development near us, then up in the Melfa way to look again for a really cool retro house trailer we’d come across a year ago, but we didn’t find it.  We ended up driving back roads up to Accomac, then back down 13.  We stopped into the Blue Crow, an antiques mall, and found a few fun “regrettable food” cookbooks that I am sort of collecting, and a metal cake place just like the one I have at home.  Hit the taco truck again:  Tostadas, this time.  Beef and chicken for me, pork for Heidi.  I think the pork was the best.

Back at the Lodge, the crew was finishing up.  It took quite a bit of time to set up the wireless connection for the Kumo Cloud app, which would allow me to monitor and control the heaters from anywhere.  I was happy with the installation job, and everything looked good.

Thursday, December 7, 2023

I finished up some demo in the office, removing sheetrock from a portion of the closet ceiling (where it was damaged) and closet walls.  I replaced the insulation in the ceiling where it had been damaged, and pulled remaining nails, etc. from the firring strips.  I packed the debris into the truck for disposal.  Meanwhile, Heidi chipped away a portal into the kitchen wall, to see what was behind the plaster.  She revealed a stud wall (expected) with heavy-duty-looking metal/wire lath over everything.  It did not look conducive to cutting in flush outlet boxes, which we had originally discussed with Matt.  I sent him a text describing the findings and we agreed that the new electrical work would be surface-mount as needed to save time, effort, and destruction.

I removed the trim from the window on the other end of the living room, the double:  Same as all the rest.  So we now had all the various window types inspected and available for measurement when Gary arrived.

With this all done by 10, we decided to head up to Lowe’s to look at kitchen cabinets and the like.  Stopped at the dump on the way to unload the sheetrock.  I[‘d brought my drawing along just because, and we ended up talking with kitchen designer David Dobbs, who took my drawing and worked to replicate it in the computer.  We liked (natch) the top end Schuler cabinets, especially the cherry Verona.  We also liked the Allen & Roth quarts in “river stone”.  More to come on this.  10-20K including countertops–expensive, but the benefit of a small kitchen.

Back home, we took doggies on a walk and so forth.  El Maguey takeout again.

Friday, December 8, 2023

Our final day this trip.  I marked outlet locations and various other things on the walls for Matt, and got ready for our meeting with Gary to finalize the window order.  $4300 for all windows, paid in full.  They will be 1/4″ smaller than the RO in all cases–a bit tight, but should be good to maximize new window area.

We spent the remains of the day packing up, getting the shed and tractor in order, and went out to the roadway to search for our property borders, which we unexpectedly found.  I took “bo koo” pictures and some video highlighting the condition of things now.

Saturday, December 9, 2023

Up at 1230, departed 0115.  Left the heat set to 55 in the LR and bedroom, 50 on the baseboard in the bathroom, and the office turned off, since this one only went as low as 60.  Went home via 50/213/301.  It’s just a nicer route, if 45 minutes longer.  It got quite foggy by the time we got to Delware on 301.  We stopped at the Middletown Royal Farms for gas and week, hoping to avoid NJ (Gandolfini was now closed).  This was our first time here, and it was a bit confusing to get in, with two divided roads on each side, and you couldn’t get in our out from the wrong side.  One has to go straight at the light, then turn in that way.  You can’t go out the easy way either:  Have to go around back to Patriot Drive to get out.  We found this all out the hardest possible way, which caused frustration and (admittedly minor) delay.  Diesel was $3.99.

It was very foggy on DE-1, never even saw the bridge over the canal (the gold cable stay bridge).  Up by Churchman’s Crossing, which at best is always somewhat of a confusing junction–we want 95 eventually, but down there 95 isn’t really the sign we want to follow…it was really foggy, and I stayed right when I should have stayed left.  We ended up on a divided road in the dark and thick fog, with no real idea where we were and we couldn’t see anything.  Google wanted me to U-turn, but it didn’t seem possible at any of the intersections we passed–and it was too foggy to see them till we were basically past anyway.  Then, the maps on the display stopped working for some reason, which hadn’t happened before (nor since).  Heidi got maps up on her phone and at some point I finally found a right turn where I could pull off and we could figure out where we were and what to do.

From there, it was easy enough, but this had been a frustrating situation in the bad visibility conditions.  And Google kept routing us to avoid the “I-95 closure”, which made no sense at all.

Finally arriving at the DelMembr, we couldn’t even see the bridge at all, it was so foggy.  Visby got a bit better thereafter on the NJTP, fortunately.  There was a bit more confusion at the split where the turnpike turned into truck and car sections, with a lot of red “-” signs (signaling closure, usually) over the car/truck split, but everything was open.

Anyway, we made it through with some minutes of frustration and no real problems.   Plenty of fuel from the Middletown stop to get home, which was nice.  We knew it had snowed at home earlier in the week, and on the way up we started making bets where we would first see snow.  IT wasn’t till somewhere north of Portland, but when we got home it still looked like a fresh snow, with 4-5″ on the ground and still in the trees since it had been cold in our absence.  I’d planned for this possibility and the plow was all hooked up on the other truck, and even though rain and warmer temps were in the forecast, I decided to plow the driveway later in the afternoon.

1849 miles; 28.3 avg MPG for the trip.

Continue with March 2024.

The Lodge: March 2024