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Old 02-26-2015, 09:15 PM   #15
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What I've learned is to not use dynamite on whales or rocks. I do remember blowing up trees and ice with dynamite when I was a lot younger, but I've given that up. The anticipation was more exciting than the result.

Another snow storm coming tonight and snow on and off for the next several days. The center of tonight's storm seems to be right in the way of our drive up I-25 as the storm settles in Santa Fe to Las Vegas (the one in NM, not Nev.). And the winds are supposed to be gusty. Most of I-25 is in the plains and white outs are not uncommon. We're thinking of going through Taos where less snow and much less wind is predicted (the Sangre de Cristo range is will protect us as the winds are to come from the southeast. As we go north, the weather should be better, though another storm is coming in a few days when we go back home. Barb wants to see her parents and I understand that, but I'm not sure it is the best thing. We might drive north through Taos to Fort Garland—then we get to US 160 and can go east toward Pueblo or west toward home. The weather will tell us what to do. I should be able to get road conditions on my iPad as we go.

Our Santa Fe friend says just stay here one more day. Tempting, but we're done with Ft. Marcy condos. Today we came back to the room and they started testing the fire alarm. We were surprised by an ear splitting noise over and over. I went to the office where no one knew what to do and no one much cared. We were run out by the constant alarms and went to town. The suite is ok, though not too well maintained by the owner or management. It is close to the Plaza and the rate is good for Santa Fe, but it isn't high quality. It has the darkest kitchen I've ever seen and I'm never sure I've really washed a dish well. The wifi is intermittent and the TV remote doesn't work well. A bad remote drives me crazy. I understand people used to have to get up and walk over to the TV and turn knobs—how primitive. Last year we had a better unit, but it had too many stairs for my back problem and knees. From what I've read, it is hit and miss here depending which unit you get. Last year we did better except for the location.

We have been taking it pretty easy. With my new knee brace I can walk without knee pain, even on the uneven sidewalks of Santa Fe. We went to the state capital yesterday. They have a very large art collection and we went to see the art. A friend had 2 paintings there at one point, but they rotate the collection, so they must be in storage. The building—called the Roundhouse—is, strangely enough, round. It was built in the '60's and is a very nice building and very well kept. No security, so you don't have to remove your clothes and be molested by strangers. We met a small town councilman who was looking for more money for his town. He comes from a small town not too far from where Barb's father grew up and he know some of her father's family. I don't know if he got any money for his town, but if being a nice person counts, he'll get it.

We've been going to various shoppes, but not so much that I had to complain. It is slow season and the shopkeepers like to talk since they have plenty of time. We went into a 2nd hand bookstore and they had a great selection, but I can't keep up with the books I have. Then we went to an antique store where the owner (a self described "old cowboy") was also talkative. He seemed to be a collector who collected too much and then priced it too high to sell. We've seen that before. The day before we talked Navajo rugs at another shoppe. Before I had the surgery, I couldn't stand in one place for more than a few minutes. Now I can stand much longer and talk with new friends. Meeting locals is always interesting and spending time learning about each other and finding out what we have in common or who we both know is what makes a trip more special.

Now it is time for a weather update on the "internets".

Gene
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Old 02-27-2015, 08:25 PM   #16
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on your

return from victora island...sail in to orcas for a couple of days...and rural will take on new meaning.....we would be glad to be your host....
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Old 02-28-2015, 03:54 PM   #17
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Thanks for your invitation and I don't think it will fit into our present plans. We've talked about visiting the many islands, but never found time to do so. The ferry charges for a trailer are another reason. We plan to take around 3 weeks which gives us time to race north, go to Vancouver Is., take some time there, and then go down the Oregon and northern California coast, and then race home. Even that will be a challenge in 3 weeks. Of course, seeing an island of orcas (I didn't know they lived on land and I wouldn't want to be around them when they are hungry), is tempting. I'd like to tour a lot of the islands and that in itself would be the subject of another trip, but not this time.

Our trip back home yesterday was pretty easy except for the length. From Santa Fe north we had a little snow and slush on the roads until north of Taos. After that the roads were dry or just wet and we made good time. We had thought of stopping for a night along the way, but we just sucked it up and drove home, arriving around 7 pm and tired. We watched last Monday's "Better Call Saul" and started getting very sleepy and went to bed and slept 9 or 10 hours. We feel rested today and have a very dirty SUV needing a good wash to get the mag chloride off. Only a couple of inches of snow had fallen here, so our driveway is ok. More snow predicted, but we always get less than they predict this year.

Now back to trying to figure out how to do the tile feature ("feature" is a word from watching too much HGTV). It goes in a 2' x 11'8" space above the opening from the kitchen to the great room. I've wired it for 2 sconces. But the space is uneven, very uneven, and fitting 1' squares of tile made of little pieces of stone is hard. You can't cut it like regular tile and it has to fit together because the pieces are interlocking. There are no grout spaces with this type of tile. This does not allow the slight changes in the grout spaces between tiles that no one ever notices. The top is 1/2" high on one side than the other. The bottom is more level, but lower in the middle. It is about 24 5/8" from top to bottom, the tile is one foot, so I have to cover some of the tile with wood moldings, but the tile is uneven on its face, so the molding cannot fit flush. That may work ok, but I have to see it to make sure. I can install a 3/16" piece of wood on the top to level that, but the bottom will be more of a challenge. I've never cut stone on my tile saw, but it is less dense than porcelain tile—though these are 1" x 2" pieces on a mesh and some of them have to be cut very thin and may shatter. Although I've done a lot of tile work, this is new to me and this is what happens when I try something I've never done before.

I think about it all the time trying to come up with an easy way to do it. I think I have to think it through upsidedown. Normally, tile is installed from the bottom and at the top, either I've adjusted the grout spaces slightly on each course to get it look level on the top. But here I think I have to start at the top and work down—actually I have to figure out the amount to cut off the bottom and then put that in and then the top one flush to the top. The bottom piece will sit on a board screwed to the bottom and I can adjust that slightly to account for differences up to 1/8" at the most. The idea is not to make it perfect—that's impossible—but to make it look perfect to the eye. A thin slat nailed to the bottom board will hide any messes and only people over 7' tall could see what is behind it. We don't know anyone that tall. The top has to fit flush because 5' tall people can look up at it. But if it doesn't look right, quarter round will hide that. If you understand what I've just written, I'm surprised. And my hope that writing about it would stimulate my brain to come up with an easier way to do this has not worked (rereading what I wrote did make me think it through again—if I can get the space between bottom to top slightly more than 24", then I won't have to cut the tiles and can shim them at the bottom, then hide the gap with molding; for some reason I'm not sure it will come out to slightly more than 24" based on some measurements I had made a couple of weeks ago—the only way to really find out is to do and cut where I have to and hope for the best).

So, tomorrow I will install the board at the top making it level, then perhaps the bottom board that keeps the tile from slipping down when installed (stone tiles are very heavy). I start in the middle and work outwards adjusting what I can. Once I do that the space between the top and bottom should be no more than 24 3/8" which gives me some room to play with it and cover the gaps. Before that I have to cut Wonderboard (cement board), no easy feat in itself. It likes to crack and I got a carbide blade for a Sawzall to cut it (otherwise you score it like drywall a break it along the score line, but it doesn't always break cleanly). I also have to cut 2 openings for the electrical boxes for the sconces. That's no fun either. And positioning the cement board is also a challenge because it is also very heavy. And the cement board doesn't come in the right size, so I have to cut it up to get 2' high by the width the studs are at. Isn't this fun? I expect to do a lot of yelling at it, much of it in 4 letter words. It doesn't make it go better, but it does release frustration. I could have paneled it or painted it and saved myself a lot of thinking, yelling and time, but no, I wanted to do something special. I should stop watching HGTV and reading Fine Homebuilding.

Prepare for the next few days. You may hear a lot of yelling at the cement board, wall, tile and myself. Hide the children. Get earplugs.

Gene
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Old 02-28-2015, 04:23 PM   #18
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Work from the top down. Sometimes that's the only way. Use lots of blue masking tape to hold lower tiles up into place as you go down the wall. Stretch the blue tape gently to get enough tension to hold tile up.

Best way to cut any tile or stone is with a wet diamond saw. Carbide really doesn't do it. Diamond saw could be rented from local big box store or rental center. It's just a lot easier. If you do cut with a wet saw be absolutely certain the tile is totally dry before you install it. Wet tile will not bond properly to Thinset or mastic.

Backer board does not have to be cut perfectly. You can be close and the tile will look just fine as long as at least 1/2 to 3/4 of the tile is on the backer board. Lay in a little extra thinset if you have a gap. Blue tape carefully placed can hold it straight.

I've done a few miles of tile in my "career" of constant home improvements..successfully!


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Old 02-28-2015, 07:27 PM   #19
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Thanks for the tips. I might have forgotten the tape. I do have a good wet tile saw and have done pretty well with it. Don't know if I've installed miles though. I can fill in gaps in the cement board with extra thinset if necessary. The carbide blade is for the cement board. I figured for the couple of bucks for the blade, it was worth a try vs. scoring the cement board with a utility knife. I may change my mind when I do it because a blade raises a lot of dust.

Tile is an economical way of making special features in a room as long as you can do it yourself and already bought the tile saw. Thinset isn't cheap anymore. I buy the premixed kind instead of mixing it myself which adds to the cost. Saves time and effort. I put plastic wrap on the remaining thinset to keep it damp, otherwise it dries out and you have half a bucket of cement useful for a doorstop or large paper weight. The tile was on sale and I already had a bucket of thinset. Amoritized over several tile jobs, the saw is getting cheaper every year. It was on sale too—$800 worth of saw with a stand, for $350. Cement board is pretty cheap. For a couple of hundred bucks, I'll have a thousand dollar job. I already bought the sconces a year ago, so they don't count, but thats another $150. Lighting is another thing that really can improve a room and it isn't all that expensive if you can do it yourself either.

Gene
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Old 02-28-2015, 09:07 PM   #20
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I have always followed your posts with interest and am glad to see you planning a big trip. We are also going to the PNW and Vancouver Island this summer but are taking from late May to Labor Day to do the trip. We lived in Portland, O. for many years and will be visiting friends along the way. We also will be able to stay in one place for a week or so before we move to the next stop. Vancouver Island and Vancouver are new to us and I am looking forward to that. Perhaps we will see you along the way.

All the best,
Caryl
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Old 02-28-2015, 09:34 PM   #21
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Forgot to mention putting 2-3" wide Fiberglas mesh over the joints in the tile board before you put the thinset over the joints. Helps prevent movement and cracks.

Wife and I were taught a lot by an expert tile setter we employed many years ago. I have been unable to find anyone that expert since, so I've been doing our tile ever since. 25+ years at it and I'm still learning new techniques.

And yes, the carbide blade will raise LOTS of dust while cutting tile board. Wear a dust mask and do it outdoors in a windy area if possible. Don't ask how I know this...but I use a portable circular saw with a special carbide blade.


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Old 03-01-2015, 12:19 PM   #22
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Caryl, wow, you will be there for a long time. But we have much to do on the house and we will squeeze in some trips when we can. We hope to have much of the house done by 2016 and make our long awaited trip back to Newfoundland—second time, but first with the trailer. Then our second trailer trip to Alaska and northern Canada in 2017 (4th overall). I may have to squeeze in knee work courtesy of my knee orthopedist, but hope to avoid that.

rmkrum (I always think of Robert Crumb and Mr. Natural when I see your Forum name)—I'm thinking of scoring the cement board and avoiding the dust problem. I can't saw outside—too much snow and cold. I can always use the Sawzall blade on something else (I once used one to cut up a cast iron bathtub in a bathroom too small to remove the tub. They must have built the bathroom around the tub; not a fun job.). Today I am going to make the area as square as possible and see how it comes out. Then the cement board.

I not worried about movement in this section of wall. The house is built on a sandstone slab and any movement ended sometime not long after it was built in 2003. I can see the stress cracks in the basement walls and they are pretty minor. I expected to see more as that is pretty common, but only two is good. There are a few in the drywall near the tile area, but very small. I filled them last year and they have not cracked again. This part of the house is supported by a large I beam and seems to be quite stable. The foundation contractor did a very good job. But fiberglass mesh embedded in thinset is a good idea just to be absolutely sure. I think I have some usually used for drywall joints.

I think I'm overthinking this job. My tile efforts, going back a similar 25 years, have always come out well. But it is a learning experience every time. Several months ago I tiled two window sills. I used a special grout that is not supposed to crack and so far as the weather has gone from cold to hot to cold, but no cracks in the grout. I don't think fake marble sills are very stable and the joints with the wood molding underneath are certainly not stable, but the grout still looks fine. I have to tell myself to take some photos of the new tile project progress to post later.

I am avoiding starting on this. Barb has first dibs on the 6' ladder, so I have to drag in the very heavy 8' one to do the work. I must get to work….

Gene
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Old 03-01-2015, 12:59 PM   #23
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Mr. Natural was a hero of mine. "Just passing through"

Fun stuff.


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Old 03-01-2015, 02:44 PM   #24
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I love Mr. Natural's shoes—they are for serious walking.

We got the strip wood up at the top to level it. Seems to be within 1/32" across 11' 8". I used drywall shims and some wood ones I made to get it level. Wood putty next and then touch up with paint. Since I'm going to avoid cutting the cement board until tomorrow, I'll put up the face molding to make it look like the board we put up is part of the drywall and cut the ends of the molding (a 1x4x12) with a southwest design next. That might finish me off for today. But, first, lunch!

Gene
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Old 03-01-2015, 03:34 PM   #25
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Tofino is one our favorite places. We have been there several times including "storm watching"/winter season. Have always stayed at the Wickaninnish Inn. We fly to Vancouver, rent a car and take the ferry to VI then drive through Port Alberni.

The highway from Port Alberni goes over a pass but it is a good road. We have driven it in a snow storm, but its nothing like a Colorado pass.

We will plan a driving trip up there as soon as this fall.

While there, we did recognizance on Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, Long Beach, which is spectacular. For a commercial RV park, Crystal Cove Beach Resort is looked nice and had full hook-up.
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Old 03-01-2015, 03:52 PM   #26
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Steamy1, I'll keep that CG in mind. We toured just about anywhere you can drive years ago. Coming back from Tofino, we had to wait while they towed a box truck out of a bog. He had lost it coming around a curve but stayed upright. I think he was towing something as well. Since we were one of the first vehicles to come on the scene, we got to watch as they tried to figure out to get the truck out between trees—somehow he had missed them all (he probably flattened a few young ones). Either great driving or dumb luck. It took them a long time to rig up tow lines to pull him out—they may have rigged the tow lines on some trees to help guide the truck out. Meanwhile a bunch of us guys watched and we figured out how to do it, but they never asked us even though we were sure we knew how to do it better than professionals. Maybe we did—we were a 150' feet away and had a different perspective than those right up close.

The road from Tofino to the east coast goes through Pt. Alberni. That town is on an estuary/river and was once a bustling port. The mountains in the center of the island are quite beautiful and it rains a lot. There's mist, low clouds, lots of conifers and some large lakes. If I remember correctly Tofino and settlements nearby are on a barrier island facing the Pacific Ocean. We had an unusual dinner at a restaurant—nouvelle cuisine. Interesting, but not our favorite. We stayed at a resort and met people from England and all over Canada at a daily pre-dinnertime gathering. It was a wonderful time, except when we got home we found someone had copied our credit card number and charged flowers and some other stuff. The credit card company took the charges off without any hassle. We think it happened at a place in the mountains where the phones didn't work and they used the old carbon paper charge slips. But we stayed at a cabin on a lake and that was very nice too.

We also drove to Pt. Hardy and had a mediocre Chinese dinner nearby, near the town airport. The only place we didn't drive to was the end of the island northwest of Pt. Hardy. The weather was cold and windy and that point seemed like the worst place to be. It was a very enjoyable trip despite a few mishaps.

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Old 03-05-2015, 09:33 AM   #27
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Hey Gene,
Been following your posts on and off. Nice work on the house. It must be rewarding to see it come together.

Drop me a note if you head this way next year or thereafter. Can probably get the skinny on what's happening and when. Might help in planning where to go.
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Old 03-05-2015, 09:37 AM   #28
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Not sure how much snow you have but this was our situation 3 weeks ago. (Our new pup in the picture)Click image for larger version

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