I’m feeling like a contractor these days, constructing a big solid foundation for those Aspen mansions I used to carpenter in my distant past.
Only in this case, the “mansion” is our mountain lifestyle, with support being things such as repairing our home and vehicles — getting ready for what I hope is another big winter of backcountry skiing.
We’ve been in our house for almost twenty years now, since we did extensive renovations in 89/90 transforming it from a “scraper” to a cozy super-insulated domicile. It’s been the perfect place to raise a child, enjoy our marriage and run a home business (post office, library and coffee only blocks away). More, our little home has been base camp for a beautiful string of adventures, many of which you can read about here.
first second law of thermodynamics applies to houses and vehicles, just like it does to the cosmos (and knee joints). Ergo, everything is always melting down to its component atoms.
So this summer has been one of running sheet metal skirting around the house to protect our foundation, re-roofing leaky sheds, getting the lawn perked up and numerous other manly endeavors. Shoot, my son and I even rebuilt the door on our kitchen oven.
All this is not without angst, however.
They say men think certain kinds of thoughts on average of once every three minutes. In my case, those thoughts are not what you think (disclosure: at least not all the time). Instead, while I stuff gaskets in oven doors and tweak my knees crawling around our stem walls, I’m lusting for verdant alpine meadows next to gently riffled high lakes where trout yank a well placed leader — and driving our Jeep or hefting a backpack, and distant thunder telling me I’d better set a taut tarp before brewing up.
I call the above “Sound of Music” thoughts. Honoring the eponymous 1960s film in which Julie Andrews does her over the top exuberant performance of said song while strolling through a surreal alpine meadow somewhere in Austria.
(Just to show I haven’t totally given up my mancard for bringing up what’s possibly the ultimate chick flick of 1965, I found this trivia from Wikipedia to be worth a chuckle and perhaps a bonafide “3 minute man thought”: Julie Andrews was on late night TV later in her career, after she’d appeared topless in some movie or another about 20 years after Sound of Music. During the show, famed comedian and host Johnny Carson thanked her for “showing us that the hills were still alive”. Great moments in TV history? You bet.)
But I digress. To bring back the manly component of this discussion, let’s talk U-joints. Specifically those in our 2002 Chevy Silverado pickup.
Nope, we haven’t sold the thing yet because of gas prices. Instead, we picked up a Nissan gas sipper called a Versa (automotive equivalent of chick flic), and kept the big truck for work and play, figuring it would sit unused for at least several days a week and thus not damage our wallets too severely.
So as part of this summer’s foundation building I’ve been going though the truck. The brakes are fixed now, oil changed, stuff like that… but I knew the rear driveshaft U-joints probably needed a go. Check it out:
|Look at these U-joint cap bearings! Amazing the thing didn’t fall out in the middle of a trip. It was getting so hot the seal melted. Carnage like this, now that’s manly stuff.|
|For all you home mechs out there. We don’t own a U-joint press, instead I use two methods for swapping the things. If I’m on the trail and the yoke is steel, I just beat ’em out with a hammer and correctly sized sockets used as mandrels, then tap the new bearing caps back in the same way. At home, I still do a lot of pounding, but use a big C-clamp as a kinder gentler press where possible, especially in the case of an aluminum yoke like that of the Silverado drive shaft.|
What else is going on around here at WildSnow HQ? Looks like our brand spanking new Virtual Private Server is dishing out our website like it’s supposed to. Nice and fast, virtually no downtime other than scheduled maintenance. Wow, one less thing to stress about? Like I said, foundations…and now I can’t get that song out of my head. Oh the trials of blogging.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.