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It all began during a vacation to Deep Creek in Bryson City, North Carolina. Being from Mississippi, where the summers are hot and humid, we were lured by the crisp cool mountain creek waters. As a family, we had enjoyed many fun times tubing, hiking and just listening to the creek. Wishing for a creek to call our own, Bob's favorite mountain sport was to spend hours riding around on mountain roads looking for just the right spot to build a log cabin.

In the summer of 1994 Bob
Coopers Creek
at the front of our lot.

found it, right there on Coopers Creek about halfway between Cherokee and Bryson City... a little lot with a big FOR SALE sign just waiting to have a new owner. When we called the number, we were informed that everyone who went to the mountains on vacation had stumbled across the sign and called to inquire about the land. But, if we were serious we could get a "good deal". The land had been purchased many years ago by the man's father who had unfortunately passed away never able to fulfill his dream of a mountain home by the creek.

Before you buy land in the mountains (or anywhere for that matter) you have to make sure it will pass a perk test for a septic system unless you are fortunate enough to hook up to a sewage system. Before finalizing our negotiations to purchase the property, we met with the health department, paid the $200 fee and requested a permit for a septic tank. Since the land was situated on a creek, regulations limited the distance between the septic system and the creek. The original plan called for a space to be cleared up on the mountain for the system. If the cabin was built on the flat area near the creek, the sewage would have to be pumped up the mountain to the septic and field lines.

After purchasing the land, we hired Harold Ray Collins of Bryson City, NC to install the septic system. He cut a small space on the mountain for the septic system and realized it would be better to locate it on the lower flat part of the lot. Harold Ray asked the health department to visit the site with him and received approval for a new plan that would employ a panel type system with one field line located on the flat area allowing the cabin to be built on the mountain above and eliminating the need to pump the sewage up. That was in 1995 and that is as far as we went with the project. Through the years we would occasionally visit the property and wish that we had the time and money to complete our dream, but we let other priorities side track our efforts.

In the 7 years between 1995 and 2002 the weeds grew and untamed nature took over the site. It was very overgrown when we visited in June of 2002 and decided to clean it up. Our friends, Charlotte and Carey Evans were vacationing with us and we rented a cabin in Maggie Valley about 20 miles from our property. While there, we spent two difficult days chopping weeds and cutting trees. Poison ivy covering the ground and briars as big as your thumb made for slow progress.

We had visited American Heritage Log Homes model home in Maggie Valley, North Carolina many times. We looked at all their plans and frequented their web site. Like most folks interested in a log home, we had visited all the log home web sites we could find. But at American Heritage Log Homes, we detected that combination of qualities unique to folks in the south: congeniality, hospitality, honesty and friendliness. Additionally, their log kits were of good quality and very affordable. That's why we decided to buy our log kit from them. (Editing note 2008 - Unfortunately, America Heritage Log Homes is no longer in business.)

During our June 2002 vacation, we met with Dennis Cook and his staff in Maggie Valley to order our log kit. The cost of the kit was about $13,000. Having a deed restriction on our property that required a minimum of 800 square feet, we settled on the Fernwood model. It is 24 x 36 (864 square feet) with 2 bedrooms, 2 baths and a great room with the kitchen, dining and living area.

The standard plan specified an 8 foot ceiling throughout the house, but we decided to use scissors trusses in the great room to provide a vaulted ceiling. We have also made a few other modifications to the standard plan, including a shower stall as well as a whirlpool tub in the master bath.

It would have been nice if our lot contained a flat building site, but in the mountains difficult building sites seem to be the norm. There wasn't enough room between the creek and the beginning of the steep slope up the mountain to locate the house and the septic system. With a 25 foot setback required from the creek bank and a 5 foot setback from the septic system's field line, we had just enough space for a driveway on the flat part.

The only way to locate the house on the lot was to cut away part of the mountain and make a "driveway" up the slope. Our access to the property was a "deeded access" across a bridge belonging to our neighbor. All things considered, we began the search for someone who had earth moving equipment to cut the drive and the house pad.

Jim Blevins, Smokey Mountain Earthworks in Bryson City, NC met with us during our June 2002 trip. Initially, we wanted to excavate the mountain the amount necessary to create a house pad accommodating the house and the front porch (30' x 36') at an elevation of 10 or 12 feet above the flat area beside the creek. The estimate to accomplish that was over $9,000. That plan would have required a lot of dirt to be hauled from the site.

This news of the cost for site preparation really took the wind out of our sails! The next day my friend Carey and I went back to the lot and cleared the weeds and brush from the little ledge up the mountain that Harold Ray Collins had bulldozed 8 years before. That night we came up with a new idea for site preparation that would not require as much of the mountain to be excavated and eliminated the need to haul off excess dirt.

We sketched out a steep driveway on the right side of the property with a switchback turn up the mountain and a house pad about 20' x 36' with the front foundation wall on a lower level of the slope. Jim Blevins agreed to meet us again the next morning to look at our new excavation plan. Jim said he could do the redesigned project for $3500. We shook hands on the deal. He was to begin the project in 3 weeks.

On the 11th of July, we picked up the final plan drawings from American Heritage Log Homes, scheduled delivery of the log kit for August 29th and secured our building permit from the building inspection department of Swain County, North Carolina. The chief building inspector was extremely helpful. The cost for the permit including an insulation requirement study was $270. Regulations required a portable toilet and the building permit had to be posted in a weather proof container at the site. We were required to sign an affidavit stating that we were building the house for ourselves (not for resale) which allowed the building inspector to waive the requirement for obtaining a general contractor. The affidavit also permitted us to do our own wiring, plumbing, framing and construction.

We rented a storage building ($45 per month) about 3 miles from the property to provide a place for keeping our tools. We didn't want to have to lug them back and forth from Mississippi every time we work on the house.

We met Jim Blevins and his crew bright and early on the morning of July 12 and immediately put up a silt fence along the creek to prevent any excavated dirt for entering the creek. It was fascinating to watch Eddie, the trackhoe operator, claw his way up the mountain. He would dig out an area and then pull the trackhoe up into it then dig out more space. He repeated that operation until he reached the space that Harold Ray Collins had originally excavated 8 years before. He enlarged that area and ran into solid rock which prevented additional excavation without blasting. We didn't want to spend the extra money it would have cost to bring in someone to drill and blast the rock. We had to settle for making the right side of the house pad about 18 feet deep.

The next day the rain set in, but Jim's crew showed up to work and finished the excavation and put down a straw mat on the driveway to inhibit erosion. The final bill was $3000, $500 less than his original quote (there are honest people in this world). Lyda, Charlotte, Carey and I put out 16 pounds of Creeping Red Fescue grass seed on the driveway and the sloped areas to get some grass growing right away. There was a slow steady rain all day which helped set the seed in the soil.

Jim Blevins gave me the names of several people to contact for a bid on the foundation work. Considering the position of the house pad and the elevation above flat ground, it would be a difficult task to move cement blocks up the mountain and pump the cement necessary for the footers. Randy Jenkins, also of Bryson City, NC seemed the most promising prospect for doing the foundation.

We hired James Herron and Associates, Bryson City, NC to do a survey after the excavation to insure that we were properly locating the house on our property. ($590) We already had some boundary markers from a previous survey but it is difficult to judge property lines on the side of the mountain. Our lot is an oddly shaped parallelogram with 100 feet road frontage including the creek. The back property line is 134 feet wide with each side approximately 146 feet. After receiving the survey we made another quick weekend trip from Mississippi to North Carolina (8 hours each way) to put flags where we wanted the house located.

The following week we contacted Randy by phone and gave him directions to visit the site. We also sent him the foundations plans. A few days later, Randy called and indicated that he had visited the site and looked at the plans. He expressed concern about the difficulty in getting materials up to the house pad, but he promised to get me a price for doing the foundation. On a follow up call he quoted us $5,300 to pour the footers and build the cement block foundation. Green Brothers in Silva, NC delivered the portable toilet on July 30th ($50 per month) and Randy planned to begin digging the footers on August 7th.

We contacted Duke Power for a temporary electric service hook up. Their engineer called back indicating that it would take at least a month to process the order. (It is a good thing we have a generator in the storage building so we aren't held up waiting for the temporary service.) The engineer also indicated  we would have to help them get access to a power source by contacting our neighbor and asking  permission to connect to his pole and pull the elevated wires from that pole to our house.

The neighbor expressed concern about the power company's trucks cutting up his yard and requested that they try to find another route. But, if no other route is possible, the neighbor asked to be present when the connection was made to insure that the power company did not ruin his yard. Duke Power's engineer said he would make another site inspection and then contact the neighbor if necessary to insure that the work is accomplished to his satisfaction.

On August 7th Randy ran into a problem trying to locate the foundation on the space cut for the house pad. He called the building inspector to the site to see what could be done. The front wall of the foundation would have to extend down 8 feet to natural ground and due to the slope they would require an engineer to develop a plan. One possible solution would be to make the foundation 18' x 36' rather than 24' x 36' and have floor trusses made to cantilever the front 6 feet of the house beyond the foundation. That sounds really neat but it would also require an engineering study.

Back to the drawing board! August 8th Randy will meet with a friend who has some heavy equipment to see if the rock can be blasted and moved allowing the whole house pad to be on one level, eliminating the need for the front foundation wall to be so high and eliminating the need for engineering studies. Wouldn't it be nice to have an unlimited budget.

We called Randy this morning and told him about a new idea we had concerning positioning the house. It was one one those ideas that come to you in the middle of the night when you suddenly realize, "Why didn't I think of that before". Rather than cutting into the area with the rock, we should shift the house to the left to avoid the rock and turn the house at an angle with the front left closer to the creek. This would enable new excavation to be on ground with less slope, provide a parking area on the right in the area already excavated and have all of the foundation on the same level.

Randy went to the lot on the 8th of August and tried to dig some with his equipment, but it was evident that we needed larger equipment to move the dirt. August 9th, Randy indicated that he had talked with Jim Blevins, Smokey Mountain Earthworks. Jim said he would move off his current job and bring his track hoe back to the site and do the new excavation for $800. That was a great relief! Jim said he would try to get there on Saturday, August 10th, but it might be Monday, August 12th before his man could move the track hoe.

Randy indicated that he would get the footers dug as soon as the new dirt work is  complete. The plan had been for us to go to the site over the weekend (August 17th) and do the floor framing and put down the sub floor. That schedule still might work.

Lyda and I went to dinner with Connie and David Robinson August 9th. Connie and Lyda went to high school together. Even though they live in our town of Clinton, Mississippi, they hadn't visited together in years. David is a builder who builds very fine homes and Connie designs the homes and draws the plans. We had a great time visiting (also played Mexican Train dominoes). David reflected on his experience from years of building to give us a few very helpful pointers. It's nice to be able to benefit from the experience of others who have been in the business and know the pitfalls to avoid.

Jim Blevins moved his track hoe back to the site Saturday, August 10th and repositioned the house pad to provide the room needed to get all of the foundation on one level. We could have avoided this situation if we have had ordered the survey prior to doing the original excavation and had the surveyor stake out the house pad site and observed the slope for rock that would be difficult to move. (Learning through mistakes provides expensive education.)

Repositioning of the house pad eliminated the need for engineering and provided a practical solution to our original problem. On August 12th Randy was able to get the footers dug for the foundation and piers. He also called for an inspection. The inspector asked for additional steel to be placed in the footers to provide the more reinforcing. He also checked to see that the depth of the footers was on natural ground rather than fill dirt.

Bob built a trailer over the weekend to carry the materials up the mountain with a 4 Wheeler. Additionally, he constructed a log dolly to attach to the back of the logs that extend off the trailer so the logs won't drag on the ground. On the night of August 12, we loaded the 4 wheeler, the log dolly and the new trailer on another trailer for towing to North Carolina. Loading a trailer on a trailer in the pouring down rain was quite an adventure, but with the help of the neighbors and our son, Robbie, we pulled, shoved and lifted the trailer onto the trailer and wedged it in behind the 4 wheeler. After attaching some safety chains and securing the load, we took it for a test drive to insure its stability.

We left for Georgia early in the morning of August 13th to install some equipment for Cal-Maine Foods, Inc., Bob's employer. The last of those installations is only 95 miles from the cabin site.  Late Thursday night August 15th we arrived in North Carolina. We unloaded the trailer and left the new trailer and 4 wheeler on the lot. Originally, plans called for beginning work on the floor joist, but the concrete blocks didn't arrive until Friday afternoon the 16th. We ordered the floor framing materials ($2200) for delivery on Friday. It was great to see the footings poured and ready for the block foundation.

Friday the 16th, Bob's mom and dad arrived from Madison, Georgia to help with moving the materials up the mountain. We hitched the small trailer to the 4 wheeler and move some of the lumber up to the house level. The hill is so steep that Bob's dad had to sit on the front of the 4 wheeler to provide additional traction. That's quite a feat for a man in his eighties! Unfortunately, it began to rain and the drive up the mountain became a bit treacherous. We had to quit early and didn't get as much accomplished as we wanted.

Saturday morning we began bright and early. The drive slope had dried out during the night and we could move materials again. At noon, some friends from Mississippi, Jacque and Mac McLemore, came by and we stopped for lunch. They just knew Bob would suggest a great place to eat. So we took them to a really good Bar-B-Que restaurant in Bryson City. (Food's good enough to "make ya slap yore mama".)

During lunch the rain came again. We were only able to take one more load up the mountain. With the brakes for the front and back wheels locked, we still slid back down (4 wheeler, trailer Dad and Bob) and that was the end of moving materials. We spent the rest of the day getting our tools ready. Checked out the nailer, air compressor and generator. The generator gave us some trouble so we packed it up to take back to Mississippi for a checkup.

Since we had moved a lot of trees when excavating, we had quite a pile of debris. The dilemma had been what to do with it. Hauling would be a waste of money. Bob visited with the Bryson City Fire Department Saturday afternoon. They said they would like to burn the debris as a training session. That was good news! We made arrangements with Randy to move the rest of the materials up using his tractor and he also agreed to do the floor framing and sub floor. With log delivery on August 29th, time was getting short and we didn't have another free weekend to go back up and do the floor framing ourselves.

The neighbor across the road offered us their house to rent for $100 a week when we come back to put up the logs. I suppose it's needless to say we immediately took them up on their offer. We left at 6am Sunday to drive back to Mississippi feeling that we had accomplished a great deal. We looked forward with anticipation to our vacation beginning August 29th.

We arrived back in Clinton, Mississippi Sunday afternoon. Sunday night somebody stole our generator. It was still strapped down on the trailer and even though we live 2 blocks from the police station, someone had the gall to rip us off. That's frustrating. Well at least it wasn't running!

Tuesday night Bob talked with Randy and he had finished laying the blocks for the foundation. He also called for an inspection of the temporary power pole we had put up over the weekend. He hoped to have Duke Power turn on the service by the time we get there to lay the logs on the 29th. Randy has really taken a keen interest in our project and has certainly worked beyond the call of duty to insure that we are on schedule. He also borrowed a bulldozer and graded the driveway to remove the slick mud that had accumulated with the weekend rain.

A friend from work, Matt Woods, let us borrow his generator so we won't have to replace the one that was stolen. If Duke Power gets the temporary service on we'll be covered both ways.

Mr. Monteith from the Lumber company told us about Sid Ball, who had a 3 wheel tow motor. Sid indicated that he would rent the tow motor and a driver to unload the logs when they arrive Thursday, August 29th. We'll need to beef up the bridge a bit in the center by adding more 3x8 oak runners to insure stability for the center wheel of the tow motor. If the tow motor can move the logs up to the house level it will sure make life easier!

We've been getting phone calls from friends and family who want to come and help us "build the cabin". Our good friends, Charlotte and Carey Evans have been ready to go from the start. Lyda's sister and her husband, Edith and Paul Cassibry, are coming, Paul's twin brother Phillip (from Gulf Shores, Alabama) and his wife Loretta are planning to come. One of Lyda's high school friends Barbara Kent Carver and her husband Tallmadge from Cookville, Tennessee plan to be there for a few days. August 21st some friends from our church who have recently retired called to see if we needed more help. We're looking forward to a wonderful time working together on the cabin.

On Wednesday the 21st, Bob talked with Dennis Cook from American Heritage Log Home, to get the time that the logs will be delivered. Dennis indicated that their Kiln had gone down and there could be a week delay in getting the kit. Bob told Dennis that we had a lot of volunteer help scheduled and that vacation time had also been scheduled and it would be a disaster if the schedule were altered because there wouldn't be enough time to complete our work. Dennis said he would do his best to make the original delivery.

Randy has completed the floor framing and sub floor. He said it's within 1/16th of an inch being square. That's pretty good for a log house foundation! The extra cost for labor to have Randy's crew construct the floor joist and sub floor was $656. The termite treatment has also been completed($233). The footers for the porch remain to be poured but we are ready to begin laying logs on the main house. The footers for the porch are on a difficult slope and Randy reckons he'll have to carry the cement in 5 gallon buckets to pour them. Those can be completed while we are assembling the main part of the house.

Bob made an error when getting the materials. When he ordered the porch framing materials he also got the framing materials for the main part of the house and forgot to specify pressure treated lumber for the porch. So we will have to take some of those boards back down the mountain next week and swap them at the lumber yard. One more opportunity to ride the 4 wheeler up that steep drive!

On Friday, August 23rd the engineer from Duke power called and indicated that he had not as yet been able to complete the access permissions requirements for right of way to get power to us. It would be nice if they could complete those details in the next few days so we can have power while we are laying the logs. If not, we'll use the generator we borrowed. We're really counting on getting those logs on time.

Monday, August 26th American Heritage Log Homes confirmed that delivery of the logs will be on August 29th as originally scheduled. Sid Ball said that he will provide the 3 wheel tow motor to unload the truck. The inspection of the temporary electric pole failed because it wiggled. We'll have to brace it better and call for another inspection. If we wet the quikcrete we poured into the hole that will also increase stability.

The plan is coming together with D day on Thursday. Paul, Edith, Carey, Charlotte, Lyda and Bob will be there for D day. Carey and Charlotte decided to get an early start arriving on Tuesday, August 27th.  Paul and Edith will leave Wednesday morning the 28th then Bob and Lyda will leave the afternoon of the 28th for a late night arrival Wednesday.

We arrived in North Carolina at midnight. It was convenient to stay at the house across the road from our lot. We were loaded with tools, windows, doors, etc. Charlotte and Carey were waiting for us. Thursday morning we had a million details to take car of before the logs arrived. Carey and Bob went to meet the guy who was going to provide the tow motor to unload the logs. He said he would be available at noon when the truck arrived.

We went to Monteith Lumber and bought more bridge timbers to beef up the bridge for the tow motor unloading the logs. We also went to the storage building to get the 4 wheeler and all the tools. While we were beefing up the bridge the log truck arrived. He had 5 bundles of logs with 24 in each bundle. The tow motor arrived and began to unload the logs. The bridge held up very well with the new timbers. Unfortunately the tow motor could not get up the hill to the house pad. For a fee of $300 he unloaded the logs in the driveway which left us with the task of moving them up the mountain be ourselves. It was really slow going, we could only move 2 logs at a time. By 6:30 in the evening we had moved about 40 logs. At times it was necessary to have all 4 of us (Bob, Paul, Phillip and Carey) pushing and pulling on he 4 wheeler and trailer because it would get stuck.

At 6:30pm the wives called us for dinner. Black-eyed peas, Country Ham, Cornbread, fresh boiled corn and tomatoes. Wow did that taste good. We topped off the meal with a birthday cake for Paul and Phillip. After super we worked on the temporary electric pole to provide better bracing. We also moved the generator and all the tools up to the house site so we would be ready for David from the log home company to train us on Friday. After a well deserved shower we retired for the evening with lots of new sore muscles.

Friday August 29th started a bit unorganized. We kept discovering all those tools and items we forgot to get. So the ladies had to make several trips to the hardware store for us.

The Hitachi cop saw that I bought on Ebay was missing a fence. The company who ordered the fence for me months ago still had not received it by the time we left so we had to improvise. By putting bolts in where the fence normally mounts we were able to keep the logs straight.

David Uhl from American Heritage Log Homes came around 9 a.m. He brought some tools with him and it was a good thing he did because some we had forgotten about. David was extremely helpful in coaching us to get the job started right. He pitched in and worked like a horse right beside us. We were a bit bumfuzzled about what to do next, but David show great patience in organizing us into a team with different tasks to help the job flow better. If anyone ever decides to build a log home by themselves and the company offers the assistance of a support person to help you get started, you'd be a fool not to take advantage of that opportunity.

At noon the ladies brought sandwiches and drinks. There were a welcome site. We picnicked on the floor of the house. Moving ahead with great speed, David worked and led us through the day. We put up 13 courses of logs in the living room area fitting the spaces for the windows and doors. The heavy logs were a real struggle to put up so we were glad that we had 4 helpers plus David. Carey, Paul, Phillip and Bob really put in a long day's work.

At 5 pm the ladies brought us Ice Cold Watermelon, Wow was that ever a treat. We worked until 7 pm when David joined us for some good ole southern cooking. Taters and Roast, corn casserole and home made apple pie with ice cream. That was certainly a good reward for a hard day's work. 

Thanks to David we learned a lot. We're prepared to finish putting up the logs and he said we should be able to finish laying the logs in about 3 and 1/2 days. The trusses are suppose to be delivered Wednesday. That will be a struggle to get those up the mountain.

Saturday, August 31st began with a great breakfast pizza. Phillip showed up about 7:45 to clean up the area so we could get better organized. Paul and Bob took the porch lumber back to swap it for pressure treated. That lumber had to be moved back down the mountain and onto another trailer for transport to the building supply. The process took several hours.

Around 10am we began to cut and place more logs and shortly after noon we had another wall ready to tie in. After a great lunch served by Lyda and Charlotte we ran out of logs at the house site and decided to move more up the mountain. We had only moved about 40 of the 125 logs the day they arrived.

From about 2pm until 7:45pm we moved the rest of the logs up to the house site. What a job. This was the hardest day yet. Since we could only transport 2 logs at a time it took a long long time. About 3pm we looked at the sky and it was getting very dark. Thunder was sounding and we were very worried that it would rain. Rain causes the drive to become so slippery that we wouldn't have been able to move more logs for several days. We asked the Lord to bless us by keeping away the rain. Although it rained all around us, it never rained one drop on our building site. That was a blessing.

After struggling to get those 85 logs up to the site we were very tired. The ladies outdid themselves with another great supper. By the way the house we rented didn't have a working dryer so the ladies used the old fashioned method, note the picture in the photo gallery.

The tools we brought really helped make the task of cutting and assembling the logs easier. The Hitachi 15" chop saw cuts the log in one cut. By placing the round side of the log down the blade just makes it through the log. We put the saw on one of those Black and Decker folding work benches and rigged two Stanley plastic saw horses to support the log during the cut. Depending on the cut it can be a two or three man job to hold and cut a log.

To cut the notches for the modified butt and pass corners we used two skill saws. One was set at a depth of 1 3/4 inches and the other one 1 1/2 inches. To make the female notch we measured from the end of the log 10 and 14 inches and made 5 or six passes with a skill saw set to a depth of 1 1/2". Then we used a hammer to knock out that 4" area of the log and a chisel to clean it up. On the male end we measured a short 4" down from the flat part of the log and cut 1 3/4 into the end of the log. We held a piece of wood against the end of the log and used a skill saw with 1 3/4 depth to cut the round portion using the piece of wood as a guide. When Bob has more time he will take pictures and show that process. It provides a very tight corner and keeps the logs from rolling which can happen with the traditional butt and pass corners.

The 1/2" drill we bought at Harbor Freight worked great for inserting the 12" self tapping screws which hold the logs together. It also was used to drill the 3/4 holes where two logs join. A 3/4" dowel was inserted into the hole along with some wood adhesive. That made joints secure and helps prevent shifting.

We didn't allow enough space for our pre hung doors so we decided to use 1x6 rather than 2x6 as door bucks. It will allow the doors to fit precisely and not have any structural effect. Other than minor mistakes, things have been going very well. Several times we have proven the old adage, "Measure twice, cut once".

Sunday, September 1st was a very productive day. When we got up the air was crisp and cool. The weather was absolutely gorgeous all day. Thank goodness the position of the house is in partial shade which makes it very pleasant to work even when the skies are clear.

In 11 and 1/2 hours we laid 12 courses of logs on two walls. Only the back wall remained to be finished. With 12 courses laid on three walls the house was really taking shape. After completing 12th layers on the back wall we'll add a 13th layer all around the house. On the 36' sides those logs will extend 24" to provide support for the overhang roof of the structure. Moving all those logs on Saturday really paid off.

We mentioned earlier that we were using two saws to make our modified butt and pass joints. One of those saws was an old Black and Decker. It was really a difficult saw to use. So, we sent the ladies off to Wal-Mart to get us a new Skill saw and that greatly improved our productivity.

When doing the guest bedroom wall, we forgot to allow space for the windows but discovered our error with only one log laid that was in the way. That gave us a chance to try out the electric chain saw. It really worked great. After we found the error, Carey suggested that we rethink the placement of that set of bedroom windows. His suggestion was to not center them on the wall, but to move them to the right allowing more space for a dresser or other piece of furniture. So, making the mistake really proved to be a benefit because we were able to give more thought to the window placement.

Late in the afternoon when we were struggling with heavy logs, we decided to assemble the scaffolding that we had brought from home. Using leverage and the scaffolding we were better able to handle the higher logs. Lyda brought us some popcorn for a snack which really tasted good and gave us a nice break.

Although we were attempting to level and square each wall as we went, we were very happy when doing a bias check diagonally, to see that the house was completely square. That's a major accomplishment for amateurs that consist of two retired Army Chaplains (Paul and Phillip), a landlord (Carey Evans) and a computer guru (Bob Gilmore).

Around 8pm the ladies came to get us for supper and arrived just in time to see us put the last log on top of the guest bedroom wall. For supper we delicious baked beans, home made hamburgers, fruit salad and chocolate cake and Heavenly Hog Ice Cream.

Monday, September 2, 2002, Labor Day and it certainly was a day of labor for the log raisers. At about 7:30pm we laid the last log on the main part of the house. It was great to have Paul and Phillip helping because they will leave Tuesday morning. That leaves Carey and Charlotte, Lyda and Bob until some more folks show up.

We accomplished a lot today. The back wall contained the most logs because it only has one window (kitchen). Since the house site was literally dug from the mountain there isn't anything to look at but a mountain wall behind the house. With such an expanse it was rather difficult to keep the wall plumb. We persevered and used various leverage techniques to keep the wall level and plumb.

No matter how hard you try, when you are cutting a 16 foot log that weights several hundred pounds it is easy to get the cut a bit long or not quite perfectly square. When that happens it requires some cutting and trimming at the time the log is laid. That's a time consuming operation. It took us longer to complete our work today than we figured because we spent a lot of time cutting and fitting.

In retrospect, it would have saved time if we had been able to get the fence for the Hitachi Chop Saw. We had to spend a lot of time insuring that our log was squared with the saw. Also if we had written down the measurements we could have saved time as well. We were constantly checking and rechecking our measurements. It is easy to get confused when making the modified butt and pass joints because the logs have a round side and a flat side and a tongue side and a groove side. You have to take into consideration which corner the cut is for and they alternate every log to accommodate the overhang on every other course.

It was good to get the main logs finished because that was quite an accomplishment. Paul and Phillip went back to their campground to pack for leaving on Tuesday morning. Lyda and Bob, Charlotte and Carey went to the Western Sizzlin' to celebrate the current level of accomplishment.

Carey and Bob were dreading Tuesday because Paul and Phillip had left and there were tall heavy logs to be laid on the gable ends. Bob went to the lot early and finished supporting the temporary service pole and called for a re-inspection. We started the day off by moving the windows and doors up the mountain. That went well but when we tried to move up a load of lumber the 4 wheeler dug a rut that it couldn't get past. We had to unload the trailer and made it up the mountain with one measly 2x4.

When installing windows and doors in a log home, it is necessary to do a bit of cutting and gouging because the windows aren't the same size as a stack of logs. Since the trusses wouldn't be delivered for several days there were only a couple of things we could do toward getting the cabin weathered in. One was the windows and doors and the other was the gable ends.

We were working on the windows when Barbara and Talmadge Carver of Cookville, Tennessee showed up. We were really glad to see them. Bob had to go to the lumber yard to pick up some trim pieces for the windows and doors. On his way back it started to rain and by the time he got to the house ite it was evident there had been a real downpour. Barbara, Talmadge, and Carey were huddled under a tarp trying to keep from getting wet. Bob hand carried some of the lumber up the mountain. The drive way was as slippery as grease.

When the rain stopped Bob, Carey and Talmadge carried more logs into the house and finished laying the logs for the gable ends. Lyda called on the Walkie-Talkie and said that Steve and Betsy Caviness from Germantown, Tennessee were on their way to help and would be here on Wednesday. That was great news because American Heritage said the trusses would arrive on Wednesday. We finished one of the gable ends about 7pm and came to the house for supper. Just as we were about to eat spaghetti and salad someone said that a fire truck was at the site. Bob ran over to move our car and a bunch of volunteers from the Bryson City Fire Department arrived to burn the trash pile.

They set the fire and used a leaf blower to really get it going. Flames leaped 50 to 60 feet in the air as the fire increased in intensity. We were very happy they came to burn the pile which was about 30 feet high. The fire department left about 9pm and the fire was really burning in a controlled manner. They said it good that it had rained because that meant there was little danger from flying sparks.

Again we have a very productive day and were pleased that new help had arrived and more was on the way. As usual Lyda had been praying that God would bless us with more help and that the fire department would come and burn the trash pile. Well just as her prayers for no rain were answered earlier in the week, He answered her prayer for more help and a way to get rid of the debris of trees and brush that had been created when the site work was done. And the rain we did get was just enough to make it safe for the fire department to burn the pile. Ain't God good! Some folks think that you shouldn't bother God with your wishes and desires, but we believe that He is vitally interested in everything we do and wants to bless us if we just ask Him.

Wednesday, September 4th we were up bright and early working on the brush pile. The fire had burned most of it but there were limbs and stumps on the perimeter that didn't burn. The coals were still very hot so we cut and piled the rest of the debris on the coals and finishing burning it up. After that we cut the logs for the last gable end. The ground was still slick from Tuesday afternoon's rain so we had to be carefully carrying in the logs. When we finished we had 2 logs left over. That's cutting it close.

During lunch we checked to see when the trusses would arrive and were told that they would be on site sometime in the afternoon. After lunch we began working on trimming the logs to accommodate the windows when the truck arrived with the trusses.

Right off the bat the truss truck got stuck. We couldn't believe how the driver steered himself into an unmovable position. He was trying to put the trusses on the lot and became wedged in soft ground between 2 trees. We got out the trusty ole 4 wheeler and pulled the trusses of the truck. The driver called his plant and they sent a tow truck to get him out. He managed to get stuck 2 more times while the tow truck was getting him out. The poor driver was fit to be tied!

We sent the girls to the fire station to take the firemen some homemade brownies and a monetary donation to their volunteer department for helping us. Then they went to the hardware store to get rope and a couple of pulleys. We were going to pull the trusses up to the house site using the rope. But, while they were gone we started carrying the trusses up with 3 people, one at each end and one in the middle. That worked pretty good; however, we had to walk very carefully up the mountain because the ground was still very slick from the rain.

By 6:30pm we had carried and erected more than half of the trusses for the house. The trusses over the bedroom and bath areas are full trusses and the trusses over the living room and kitchen are scissor trusses to provide a vaulted ceiling. We put up the full trusses leaving the scissor trusses for the next day.

Before supper, Bob rode the 4 wheeler up to the Great Smokey Mountain National Park at the end of Coopers Creek road to cool off after a hard day's work. Supper was ready when he returned, Barbara Carver had made some good homemade chili. The Carvers were able to get their camper setup next to the rental house across the street from the lot. We had a nice visit over dessert and everyone retired except Bob who began his nightly endeavor to update this web site.

Thursday, September 5th began with pancakes and sausage. Barbara and Talmadge, Betsy and Steve, Charlotte and Carey, Lyda and Bob enjoyed a great breakfast and some good fellowship before the day's work began. Carey, Talmadge and Steve worked on plumbing the trusses we put up on Wednesday while Bob went to the building supply to get some decking material for the roof.

We realized that there were a number of tasks that had to be completed before the roof decking could be installed. The logs on the gable ends had to be "shaved" to fit the trusses. Notches had to be cut on 24" centers for the gable end logs and 1st truss in order for the ladder rafters to be installed. The ladder rafters support the barge rafters which support the roof overhang on each side of the house.

While Bob shaved logs and cut notches (a very slow painstaking process) Carey, Talmadge and Steve erected the scissors trusses which form the vault for the living room/kitchen ceiling. They also laid the logs for the last gable end of the house. We finished for the day at 7:30pm.

Wednesday, a neighbor brought some fresh corn and canned green beans. Another neighbor brought some fresh grapes from his grape arbor. For supper Thursday night we had those delicious green beans and corn in addition to potato salad, tomatoes, corn bread and dessert. It was a nice reward for a hard day's work. The fresh grapes were really good and very sweet.

We felt that it was important to develop a good relationship with the folks in the area. The traditional North Carolina natives are very friendly and appreciative of kindness. There are a number of Floridians that have property in the area. Some are friendly, some are a bit hard to get to know, but curious and others are downright unfriendly. Although it's not "politically correct" to categorize people, some of the Floridians are known as "halfbacks". Those who grew up in New York and moved to Florida and now have moved halfway back to North Carolina just to aggravate the natives.

Mississippians are hospitable folk usually looking to develop friendly relationships with those around them. So it was natural for our wives to bake a cake to share with the neighbors and receive reciprocal acts of kindness.

Friday, September 6 - Steve and Betsy left to go back to Memphis because of a prior commitment to help with an Audubon Society event in Holly Springs, MS. But, Bob's Dad came to help for a couple of days.

Carey, Talmadge and Barbara worked on the roof decking while Bob finished shaving the last gable end logs and notching for the ladder rafters. Dad worked on window framing and installed the guest bedroom window. Since it may be a while before we are able to come back to work on the house, we decided to put on rolled roofing rather than roofing felt. The rolled roofing will be more stable and weather better than felt until we can install a metal roof. 

After completing the log shaving, Bob moved up to the roof and worked with Carey laying the decking. It's pretty scary working on the front roof. Looking down from the roof to the area around the creek it's about 40 or 50 feet straight down. Installing the first section of decking on the edge of the roof is precarious at best.

We really accomplished a lot today and it looks like we'll achieve our goal of getting the house weathered in by Saturday night. We didn't take many pictures today, but on Saturday we'll get more of the roof decking and other details.

Saturday, September 7 was a very productive day. Bob and Talmadge finished decking the roof as well as installing rolled roofing. Our intentions are to install a metal roof and normally roofing felt is installed under the metal roofing. Since it may be a while before we get around to installing the metal roof, Bob's dad made the suggestion that we use rolled roofing which is more durable and would handle the weather better than felt.

Carey, Barbara and Bob's dad work on the doors and windows. Carey also cut all the rolled roofing and carried it up to the roof. The roofing work was really scary on the front roof because it is such a huge drop off to ground level, approximately 30-40 feet. The back wall backs up to the mountain and even though the height from the roof edge to the ground is about 12 feet, the wall of the mountain provided a false sense of safety. After working on the back roof our confidence was better for finishing the front roof. We also nailed cripples of 2x4's to the roof to provide something to hang on to.

By the end of the day, all the windows and doors except one set of bedroom windows had been installed. Carey put some roof decking over the one set of windows we didn't finish installing. He also put some material over the fireplace opening. That consummated the "weathering in" process. We celebrated with a good supper of Bar-B-Que pork from the Bar-B-Que Wagon in Bryson City.

Our plans were to get the logs up, the roof on and windows and doors installed during our vacation. We achieve our goal. But it would not have happened without all the help of our good friends and family.

Carey and Charlotte Evans were here the whole time, in fact they actually arrived the day before we did. Carey worked very hard and had great ideas that were helpful. Charlotte cooked and cleaned and kept us stocked with water, drinks and snacks during our working hours. It is really great to have such god friends who certainly went above and beyond the call of duty in helping our achieve our quest for a log home.

Paul and Phillip Cassibry were great assets in helping us move the logs and lay the log walls. Edith, Paul's wife helped with the cooking as well. They were a the site from Thursday through Tuesday. Even though the work was very hard, they hung in there until the logs were laid on the main part of the house.

Barbara and Talmadge Carver came Tuesday and worked like Trojans. They even extended their stay until Sunday rather than leaving on Friday as they had originally planned. Talmadge was always anticipating what was happening next and was ready with the proper tool or material in hand. He worked on the trusses, log gable ends and roof decking and roofing. It was extremely hard work but he was always upbeat and ready to pitch in. Barbara did some cooking and also helped work on the house. She was great to keep the materials out of our was and the sawdust swept up. She helped Bob's Dad with the windows and doors and carried lots of material up the mountain including some trusses.

Steve and Betsy Caviness came Wednesday. Steve helped carry and erect the trusses. He also helped move logs in for cutting and helped install the gable end logs. He made many a trip up that ole mountain with materials. Betsy helped Lyda with getting materials from the lumber yard and hardware store. There were countless trips to get the materials we needed.

Bob's Dad, Charles Gilmore at 82 is a very spry man. Having just returned from Jamaica where they celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Mission work he started there, Dad couldn't wait to come to North Carolina to help out. He arrived Friday and worked for two days on doors and windows which required a lot of cutting and trimming of logs to prepare the openings. He is always full of great ideas and has great wisdom related to building and construction. He worked from sunup till sundown and kept pace with all the others. We had to chase him off the roof because we were worried that he might fall. But he was always ready to help and provide much needed advice.

So, it was with the efforts of those mentioned above that we were able to bring the project to this stage in such a short amount of time. Considering that we didn't start the actual building process (except for foundation and floor framing) until Friday August 30th, we had the house weatherized in 9 days. These were the professions of the helpers, a landlord (Carey), 2 retired Army Chaplains (Paul and Phillip), a former Fed Ex pilot (Steve), a retired phone company engineer (Talmadge), a Missionary (Charles, Bob's Dad) and a manager of information systems (Bob).

Future work will be accomplished on long weekends and additional vacation days. Some work will be handled by contractors as funds permit. It has been a rewarding experience and has provided a real sense of accomplishment for all involved.

Sunday morning, Bob Lyda, Carey, Charlotte, Barbara and Talmadge moved the lumber for the porch up into the house for safe keeping. That was the last of the trips up the mountain on the 4 wheeler. It proved to be the best mode of transportation for moving material.

Monday evening September 9th, Bob asked Randy Jenkins (the guy who did the foundation, floor joist and sub floor) to complete the construction of the porch and put in the last set of windows which we boarded up. It will be sometime in October before we can get back to North Carolina to do some work. Then, we can concentrate on outside trim and inside framing.

Everyone has marveled at how quickly we completed the work. Of course it was with very long days and lots of great help. Look for the adventure to continue in October.

Randy called on September 23rd and said he had given some thought to the best way to do the porch. He suggested that we cantilever it back to the house foundation footers in order to keep from disturbing the steep slope. After visiting with the building inspector, he was told that we would need to have an engineer sign off on the plan. Chris Hall, a friend from Bob's office who is a whiz with AutoCad, drew up a quick plan of Randy's idea. Chris also suggested an engineer who could stamp it, satisfying the building inspector.

Randy called again on September the 30th and said that he had completed the porch. His and his crew had worked 22.5 hours, so the cost for labor was $922.50. He said the porch really was solid and looked good.

Of course we wanted to see the new porch!! We also needed to do some on site planning related to the fireplace enclosure and clean the logs in preparation for staining and preserving them. Hurricane Lili passed to the west of Mississippi, so the weather for the weekend of October 5th looked good. We left for a quick weekend trip to North Carolina after Bob got off work Friday, October 4th.

It was exciting to see the new porch. It really completed the look for the cabin and the feel of hanging out over the slope above the creek was just as neat as expected. The porch was very solid and as usual Randy did a great job building it. We were taking a little break from cleaning, sitting on the porch,  when we saw a car drive slowly by. We waved, to be friendly, and the car stopped, backed up and drove across the bridge.

We were very surprised to see some good friends from Clinton, Mississippi, Bob and Barbara Wills. Bob Wills recently had surgery and they were on a trip to the mountains to relax and recuperate. They were camping in Cherokee and decided to find our little cabin. Bob and Barbara sat beside us at a Gaither concert the day tropical storm Isidore drenched Mississippi. We had given them the web address for this site. So, they couldn't wait to see it in person and were as surprised as we were when they discovered us sitting on the porch. It was a welcomed break from our cleaning.

We finished scrubbing the logs on October 6th before driving back to Mississippi after a very short but fun continuation of our adventure. By the way, we used creek water, Clorox cleaner and bleach to wash down the logs. Then we rinsed them with more creek water. That process did a good job removing the dirt from the logs that got on them when we were dragged them up the mountain. Plans are to do the staining and preserving the weekend of October 26th.

We arrived on Thursday the 26th of October to falling leaves and light rain all prepared to put PeneTreat on the logs and coat them with Organic Clear (a tinted oil based preservative). Luckily the PeneTreat application called for the logs to be damp because the humidity was very high. PeneTreat is a powered substance needs to be mixed with warm water. It was good that we had rented the house across the street so we had warm water available.

The PeneTreat and water were mixed in a garden sprayer and sprayed on the entire surface of the logs. Since 2 coats were needed, we put one coat on Thursday afternoon and the other one Friday morning. Friday afternoon we went to Montieth's Sawmill and purchased a bundle of rough sawn "green" white pine. We wanted to use it for outside trim around the doors and windows.

Saturday we moved the 100+ pieces of lumber up to the cabin with the 4 wheeler and trailer and spread it out on the porch in order to spray it with PeneTreat. Then we stacked the lumber in the house with each layer separated to enable it to air dry during the winter. We selected the pieces we needed for the outside trim and by 7:30 pm Saturday night had trimmed out the side door and window and the back window. It was so dark that Lyda had to hold a light for Bob to put in the last nails.

Sunday morning we finished the outside trim and loaded up for the trip back home. Since the time had changed that gave us 2 extra hours of work time Sunday before leaving for Mississippi. (1 hour which we "fell" back and 1 hour time difference between MS and NC). Unfortunately the logs were not dry enough to apply the OrganicClear so we'll have to make another trip. Planning will be difficult because it has to be dry and over 50 degrees to apply the OrganicClear.

We are still having problems getting electricity. Duke Power told us they had contacted our neighbor, who refused to allow them to connect a power line for us to the power pole which services his house. The neighbor doesn't want them to change out the transformer on their pole in case they might damage their yard. So, that leaves us with the task of having to contact several other neighbors to try to get permission for the power company to cross their properties in order to bring power to us.

Unlike subdivisions and country roads which have utility rights of way, power lines in the mountains cross from one property owner to the next. Everyone has power because in the past a neighbor was neighborly and allowed the power company access to bring power to each other. It is difficult when a current property owner who has power because some good neighbor in the past was considerate of a previous owner, refuses to have consideration for new neighbors. There are some other neighbors whom the power company say they will not contact because in the past they have refused other connections. So now to get power we will have to come across several pieces of property all owned by different out of state folks.

Hopefully, we can get these details worked out by spring so we will have power in time to finish our construction. Meanwhile we'll have to continue to use the generator to provide power for our tools. Hauling gas up that mountain isn't really a lot of fun. In fact Randy had a helper refuse to work on our cabin because it was difficult carrying the generator and fuel up the mountain.

We closed out our storage building and also asked the PortaPotty company to remove it so we could save those expenses through the winter. We asked Randy for a quote on doing the metal roof and it was about $1900, so we will defer that expenditure until the summer so we can save our pennies to pay for it. We also asked him to provide a quote of finishing out the exterior fireplace enclosure. We will probably do that in stucco over OSB board and later have Randy apply rock for that traditional stone fireplace look.

Our last trip to North Carolina for 2002 was November 8th. We left around 4pm on Friday afternoon and arrived at about 1am. We stayed at the house across the street. It was 30 degrees outside and the house had 1 kerosene heater that had fuel in the living room. So, we spent a very cold night bundled up in blankets and layers of clothes trying to get warm. The first thing on the list for Saturday morning was to get some more kerosene for the other heaters. On Saturday the 9th we treated the logs with a coat of OrganicClear WR-5, a combination stain and treatment to guard against mildew, mold and water. As with the PeneTreat we used a garden sprayer to apply the material. We also used a brush to smooth out the excess that tended to drip from one log to the next. The walnut color added a richness to the look of the logs. We are very happy with the new color. The trick was to find a weekend when the temperature would be above 50 degrees and the preceding several days were dry. On Sunday, November 10th we wanted to apply Thompson's water seal to the porch, but it was raining when we got up so that was out. We'll do that in the spring.

December 23rd brought an update on a possibility for electricity. One of our neighbors who owns property beside and behind our lot has agreed to allow Duke Power to locate a pole behind our house. That would mean that a connection from the people across the street could be made to the pole behind the house and then to our house. We will present this new plan to Duke power and see if they can now make the connection.

The end of February 2003 we wanted to go back to North Carolina and "check" on things. It had been 4 months since we had been to the mountains. Bob wanted to see if the cabin had made it through the winter ok. We left Clinton on Friday afternoon February 28th and arrived in Cherokee that night. Since the campgrounds and cabins around our area had been closed up for the winter we stayed at the Comfort Inn.

Saturday morning we were welcomed with pleasant weather, blue skies and mid 60s. It was good to see that the cabin had weather the winter without any problems. Even though they had lots of rain and a little snow in the area during the winter, the ground was firm and there was no sign shifting dirt. We noticed that we need to close up the area under the eaves from the top of the logs to where the roof to prevent birds from building nests in the cabin this spring.

Bob surveyed the electricity issue and came up with a plan to present to the power company and the neighbors which would route a power line from the Wells across the street to the property just behind the cabin. Bob drew up the plan and faxed it to Duke Power. Bob also took some measurements of the slope in order to develop a plan for access.

Saturday afternoon we went to the Whistle Stop in Franklin, NC a fabulous Antique Mall. Lyda got lots of ideas for decorating. We also visited a small gauge railroad museum in Dillard, Georgia across from Rabin Gap Prep School. It gave Bob some ideas concerning building a track and mine car to pull up the slope for access. Mr. Dess Oliver, a teacher from Rabin Gap Prep School had built the railroad tracks and some rail cars with the help of some of his shop students. It was very helpful to see how that had accomplished it. Bob was able to get the measurements he needed for placement of railroad ties and track in addition to seeing a car the students had built which would be a perfect solution to our access up the mountain.

After arriving back in Mississippi, we went to a Home Improvement show and talked with a man who sells elevators. He mentioned a man who used to work for the manufacturer of the elevators, had purchased the right to manufacture a device called a Hill Climber. Upon investigation at his web site his solution to move people and goods up a hill looks like a good one. It is similar to those stair climbers that you sit on and ride up a set of stair except that it is much larger in scope and can handle 700 pounds. Of course the real question is how much does it cost. After we investigate those details we'll have a better idea of which method to choose, building a rail car and track or purchasing the Hill Climber. I have included pictures of the railroad car and track in addition to the Hill Climber in our Putting It All Together picture page 19.

Well the cost for the hill climber is astronomical. They estimated it would be around $20,000 just for its track. So we'll continue to look for an affordable solution.

June 2003 brought good news. The man from Duke Power called to say that he had reached an agreement from another neighbor across the street to allow us to get power. We scheduled a meeting with him for June 17th.

We arrived back at Coopers Creek on Friday evening June 14. Staying at the Wells house across the road again proved to be a real convenience. Saturday, Lyda treated the porch with Thompson's Water seal. We chose a brown tint and it really looks great. Bob began to work on installing screen under the eaves at the rafters to keep critters out. Since it will be a while before we have a chance to close in the eaves, this is the quickest way to eliminate, birds, wasps, hornets and other unwanted pests from getting in.

Lyda took over working on the screens and Bob constructed steps using some extra logs from the original log raising. The steps worked out well and made it much easier to enter the cabin.

Monday, Bob made a trip to the lumber yard for interior framing materials and sewer pipe. It took the better part of 2 days to dig the trench for the sewage line and run the pipe. As usual it required several trips to the lumber yard to get all the right stuff.

Monday afternoon the Evans arrived. Several days earlier, Carey had stint installed in an artery, but he and Charlotte came to help anyway. It is always good to have a friend around to help you measure twice so you'll only have to cut once!!!

Tuesday morning we met with Jim from Duke Power. He assured us that we will have electricity by the end of July. BUT, he insisted that we repair the bridge because they would not bring their equipment over it in its present condition.

Wednesday, Bob tore out all the rotten timbers from the bridge, got a new load from the sawmill and installed them. It was a very long hard day. The bridge timbers were made from 3x8 oak and just as heavy as the logs we used on the house. Bob push, pulled and leveraged each one into place. Some of the old timbers fell into the creek and it was a real challenge for Bob to get them out. Those timbers were so old and water logged they would even float. It took every ounce of strength to get them up on the bank. But, at least the water was cold!!!!

Thursday was another challenging day installing fascia boards on the front of the porch. We also had to install a drip cap to protect the boards from dripping rain. Lyda used the grinder with a chain saw wheel to cut grooves along the perimeter of the inside walls near the floor. Those grooves will be used to route wire for walls plugs and other electrical circuits. Charlotte stained the porch posts with the new supply of Organiclear WR5 we had received.

Friday, Lyda and Charlotte left to come back to Mississippi since they were going to be hosting a baby shower on Saturday for our daughter, Sara Graham. Our first grandbaby is due in July. I suspect that will put a damper on coming up and doing more work for a while.

Carey and Bob stayed through Sunday morning and were able to complete the framing of the interior walls. The framing took two days including many many trips up the mountain hand carrying the framing materials. As usual, Carey was a big help in thinking through all the various components of framing.

We are truly blessed to have Charlotte and Carey as such good friends. We're anxious for them to start on their own cabin on some land they have purchased outside of Waynesville, NC, about 30 miles from our little spot on the creek.

August the 6th, Bob had to go to Hartwell, Georgia to install a new system at Cal-Maine's facility. Lyda tagged along and we stayed at The Skelton House, a wonderful Bed and Breakfast just a block off the square in downtown Hartwell. John and Ruth Skelton are gracious hosts. On a previous trip to Hartwell, Bob had a bad experience with the local motels, both of which are owned by the same Mr. Patel. Since every bad experience brings opportunities for good ones, discovering the Skelton House was a real find.

In addition to the great southern hospitality, John and Ruth prepare a gourmet breakfast each morning that is sure to satisfy even the most discriminating tastes. If you ever have a chance to go to Hartwell, you can't pass up the opportunity to stay at the Skelton house. On Friday morning, Ruth packed a loaf of their scrumptious home made bread and a container of pimento cheese so we would have sandwiches for lunch.  Click here to see the Skelton House Web site.

Since Friday was a travel day, we traveled the 90 miles from Hartwell to Bryson City, rather than coming straight back to Mississippi. Bob's Dad came up from Madison, Georgia and we had some time to work on the cabin.

Unfortunately Duke Power still hadn't hooked up the power to the temporary pole so we had to use the generator again. Bob met with Randy Jenkins and he agreed to build the fireplace enclosure, put on the metal roof and construct the soffit and fascia. Those are tasks which require some "high" work and we don't have ladders of sufficient height. Randy is better equipped to handle those types of jobs and we are pleased to have him available to help us.

Dad and Bob sketched out the plumbing so we could purchase the proper supplies. A trip to Lowe's in Franklin yielded the necessary pipe and fittings along with some great knowledge from a young Lowe's sales guy who is well versed in the plumbing codes. He gave us some good tips and pointed out several things which should help us complete our plumbing within the guidelines of the local code.

Saturday morning Dad cut out the holes in the floor for the drains. We decided that we needed to go back to Lowe's and purchase a shower so we could be assured of putting its drain in the proper location. While at Lowe's we discovered a Whirlpool bath tub that would be perfect for the guest bathroom. They had one that had been returned because the customer had changed their mind about that particular unit. That saved us a lot of money. In fact the price we paid was only $311.

After filling up Dad's Suburban with a shower and Whirlpool bath tub we headed back to the cabin. We stopped at a local flea market so we could purchase a couple of pulleys and some rope because we knew the task of getting the tub and shower up the mountain to the cabin would be a difficult one.

Sure enough, the task lived up to its expectations. We first strapped the shower to a little garden cart and Lyda and Dad pushed while Bob pulled. Step by step we struggled up the mountain until we finally reached the top.

After catching our breath, we decided it was time to move the tub. We attached a rope to the steps and strung it halfway down the slope. We used the pulleys and more rope for a makeshift block and tackle which we tied to the handle of the garden cart. Lyda and Dad pushed on the cart while Bob pulled the rope. Halfway up the mountain, we had to tie off the cart because the rope in the block and tackle wasn't long enough to reach all the way to the top. After repositioning the block and tackle we were able to finally make it to the top.

Just as we moved the tub into the cabin, it began to rain. It was good that it didn't rain while we were moving the tub and shower up the mountain or we would have slipped and slid backwards 2 steps for every step forward.

With all the plumbing supplies in the cabin, we're prepared to go back up the end of this month and complete the installation of the plumbing and wiring. Now, if we can get the spring corralled, we'll have running water and be able to "camp" out in the cabin while we finish our work.

This trip gave us the opportunity to do some planning concerning the layout of the fixtures and cabinets for the bath and kitchen. Over our labor day vacation we should make some real progress.

After a year of waiting, electricity was finally connected to our temporary service pole on the 15th of August 2003 by Duke Power. That will really help as we continue to work on the cabin.

August 28th we arrived late in the evening ready for 10 days of hard work, Friday morning we made our rounds to the lumber yard and the sawmill to get materials for the week. Unfortunately Randy didn't get the fireplace enclosure built or the metal roof installed so we decided to make the fireplace enclosure out of log siding and postpone the roof work till next summer. We order 2000 linear feet of "paneling" 1x8 boards tongue and groove and beaded for the walls.

Friday afternoon as we were struggling to move the planer up the mountain on the little cart a couple appeared out of nowhere and helped us push our load the rest of the way up the mountain. They turned out to be our neighbors, Joy and Gerald Sage from Tampa, Florida. We had a nice visit and enjoyed their company. Later in the afternoon Bob's Mom and Dad arrived and we began to plan our work.

Dad had been thinking about our need for a lift up to the house. Since we had already purchased a winch, we needed to decide which way to build the incline. Deciding on the steepest path in front of the house, we needed more materials. Sackrete, landscape timbers and pressure treated wood. We went to Lowe's in Franklin and purchase some of the materials and then ate supper at Fat Buddies, another great Bar-B-Que place!

Saturday morning Lyda and Dad went back to the lumber yard and Bob began digging post holes for the structural part of the lift. Eight post holes was all Bob could manage for the day. Each one had rocks that had to be broken up in order to dig deeper. Gerald Sage came by on his way to the hardware store and Lyda rode with him to get a bar to breakup the rocks. The sharply pointed bar weighted between 30 and 40 pounds and really helped to breakup the rocks.

Sunday Bob dug more holes and Dad worked on the supports. Using a rope tied around their waists, Dad and Bob continued to dig holes and build the underlying structure of the lift. The steep slope prevented them from making very fast progress.

Gerald came by Sunday afternoon and we took a break to go look at the spring site on his property to which we have a deeded access. After digging around, we were able to open up an old spring box and get some water flowing into it. With a little bit of work we will be able to get the spring working satisfactorily. We decided to leave that project for later, but were appreciative that Gerald had taken the time to show us the location and help us get it flowing again.

By the time darkness arrived Sunday night, we had managed to complete the basic structure and get one track installed. We made the tracks from 2x4s, one on its side nailed to one flat, forming an L shaped track. Dad also began to build the cart that would run on the track.

Monday we built the other track, finished the cart ,built a mounting deck to hold the winch and a platform to move materials from the cart onto at the upper level.

Tuesday, we completed the work on the lift and named it the Charlie Horse in honor of Bob's 83 year old Dad who worked so hard to design and help Bob build it. We powered the Charlie Horse with 2 large marine batteries to provide twice the power. We'll keep it charged with a battery charger as well as a solar powered charging panel. We needed a deck beside the Charlie Horse with a ramp to facilitate moving large objects like a refrigerator and furniture. Lyda and Dad went back to the Lumber yard while Bob dug more post holes. With the lift running it was much easier transporting 80 lb bags of Sackrete rather than struggling to carry them up by hand!

Monteith Sawmill delivered the 8" paneling, but made a mistake and brought 2000 board feet instead of 2000 linear feet. That meant about twice the amount of lumber, which would be enough for the walls and ceiling inside the house. With the Charlie Horse ready we knew it would be much easier to move the lumber up to the house. We were also suppose to get the log siding but they didn't have it ready. Bob told them that we needed it by Friday so we could build the fireplace enclosure.

We looked down by the creek and saw a trucking coming across the bridge. David and Elizabeth Hayes, our good friends from Canton, Mississippi had pulled into the driveway. David worked for us for about 3 years rebuilding our old late 1800's house in Clinton, Mississippi. He and Elizabeth were primitive camping in the mountains and had decided to drive up and check on our cabin. They were as surprised to see us there as we were to see them. It is great to have good friends drop by from back home.

While visiting with David and Elizabeth, Carey and Charlotte Evans drove up. We had been expecting them. They had purchased some land about 30 miles from us near Waynesville and were there to work on it as well as help us a bit. Charlotte and Lyda began to move the paneling up to and into the house while Bob started working on the sewer drains and Dad worked on the deck and ramp for the Charlie Horse.

Wednesday, Bob went back under the house to work on the plumbing and Dad finished building the deck and ramp. Dad also enclosed the winch to protect it from the weather. Bob got some of the drains connected (without gluing them) trying to make sure all the pieces of the plumbing puzzle would fit together. We came up a few pieces short and made yet another list.

Thursday morning we woke up to rain. It really came down and that gave Bob and Dad a chance to go to the hardware store and lumber yard to get more plumbing supplies. Bob worked under the house all the rest of the day connecting the parts and pieces.

Friday morning it was a cool 51 degrees and Bob was back under the house gluing the pipes when Mondee Monteith and his son Marvin showed up with the log siding. Friday afternoon Dad and Bob built the structure for the fireplace enclosure and moved some of the log siding up to the house. Bob worked late and completed the plumbing for the drains.

Saturday Dad and Bob worked all day on the fireplace enclosure. Bob cutting the boards and Dad nailing them. Dad worked from the inside of the enclosure. He screwed pieces of 2x4s to the sides and put a piece of decking on them to provide a place to stand. As he was moving up to another level Dad accidentally dropped the deck board and had to stand there with his toes on the little pieces of 2x4 until Bob could cut another board to stand on. He made a stirrup from a piece of rope and climbed up to the next level. You'd never know he was 83 years old.

It was well after dark when we finished putting on the log siding. However, we still had to construct the roof on the fireplace enclosure. By 9:30 pm we had mounted the roof decking and attached some roofing material. That was a very long day.

Sunday morning Dad and Mom left to go back home and Bob went back up to the house to complete the roof for the fireplace enclosure. After putting on the flashing and using roofing cement to make the cracks water proof Bob was really glad to be finished with that part of the work. Charlotte and Carey came and Lyda and Charlotte cleaned up the cabin while Carey put up another wall. Bob applied PeneTreat to the log siding to preserve it. Bob put foam in the cracks where the log siding was attached to the house and put some rough sawn trim to complete the fireplace project.

It was 1pm Sunday by the time we were showered, cleaned up and ready to leave for the trip back to Mississippi. Carey stayed to meet the well drillers at his lot and Charlotte rode with us back home. We made it back around 11pm Sunday night after 10 days of good hard work and a lot of accomplishments.

We hope to go back the first weekend in October to do some more work. Although we didn't get everything done we hoped to do this trip we did get the lift built and that wasn't originally on our agenda. It proved to be a very productive trip.

The morning of October 3rd we woke up to a crisp cool 30 degrees. Today was the day we were to work on the spring. Brrrrr. Up the mountain about 300 feet from the house is an area where several springs flow. There are several spring boxes which have been abandoned over the years. During our last trip our neighbor, Gerald Sage had helped us uncovered one of the original old spring boxes and get some water flowing into it.

Armed with hydraulic water seal, a small pick, shovel and sackrete we tackled the job of refurbishing the spring box. After several hours of work the water was flowing at the rate of about 80 gallons per hour. That is a sufficient flow for our purposes.

We purchased a 275 gallon water tank, 300 feet of black plastic pipe, and a pressure tank to use with the pump we had previously acquired. Saturday we finished the project and within about 3 hours the water tank was full. The next trip we will install the water lines under the house, hook up the pump and finish the plumbing.

We stained the log siding which we used to build the chimney enclosure. Randy Jenkins came by and will install the metal roofing in the next week or so. He is also going to close in under the eaves and install a ceiling on the porch.

It is really good to know that we now have electricity and running water. We're getting closer to being able to camp out at the house while we finish the interior. Next trip is scheduled for the end of October. That will probably be the last chance we have to work before cold weather sets in.

Thursday, October 23 Carey Evans and Bob arrived in Madison, Georgia to pick up Bob's dad for a weekend of work in the mountains. Leaving from Madison at 5am Friday morning we arrived at the cabin at 8:30 to begin a 2 days work. We were greeted by a shiny green metal roof which Randy Jenkins was installing.

Bob completed the hookup of the pump and pressure tank to the outside water storage tank. Dad worked on the wiring and Randy and his crew came to finish the roof. He had earlier completed constructing the soffit and fascia all around the cabin. They also finished installing the porch ceiling. They used some of the 8" tongue and groove paneling for the soffia and porch ceiling. The rough sawn lumber was used for the fascia.

Friday afternoon we had a visit from Charlie and Royce Ann Saul of Clinton, MS. They were visiting in Ashville and came down to see our cabin. It is really great to see friends from home come by check on our progress.

At the end of a long and very productive day, we made a list of electrical supplies to get a Lowes and went to Waynesville for dinner. Bright and early Saturday Bob went to the local building supply to pay for the metal Randy had obtained for the roof project, about $1300. Randy and his crew had spent 26 hours installing the roof, soffit, fascia and porch ceiling, that came to $1066.00. Again, we were very pleased with Randy's work and the price was fair as usual.

Dad continued to work on the wiring and Bob finished the plumbing under the house. It was a welcome relief to get that completed. Carey finished installing paneling and all walls now have paneling on one side. One side has to remain open until we finish the wiring and have our rough plumbing and wiring inspection.

After eating a fast food supper, Bob and Carey went back to the cabin and worked til 11 pm. As Bob stepped out onto the side steps to lock up for the night he lost his balance in the dark and fell off the steps. Thank goodness the only thing hurt was his pride!

Early Sunday morning Carey put out 10 pounds of grass seed while Bob and Dad gathered up tools. As we were driving away the rain began to fall just in time to water the seed Carey had sown. We took Dad back to his home in Madison, GA. and arrived in Clinton, MS ten hours after leaving our little mountain cabin.

In March 2004 we spent a weekend working on the plumbing. We hooked up the water pump and tested the system. We were happy to have running water in the house. Bob assembled and installed the shower. Perhaps after the next trip we will be able to camp out in the house.

On this trip we discovered a neat little motel the Rosewood Inn in the heart of Bryson City. Patricia Smith who owns the motel is a gracious hostess. She is a native of Jamaica and the lilt in her accent brought back memories of when Bob lived in Jamaica with his parents in the early 60's. Patricia always had a fresh pot of robust coffee ready each morning to help us kick start the day. We really wished that we had discovered the Rosewood Inn earlier in our quest to build our cabin. We would have enjoyed staying there. There are rocking chairs on the front porch to help you wind down after a hard day's work. So if you decide to go to Bryson City and need a clean reasonable place to stay, be sure to call Patricia and stay at the Rosewood Inn. The phone number is 828 488 2194 and it is located at
265 Main Street.

April 22, 2004 brought us back to the mountains to work on the cabin. Again, we stayed at the Rosewood Inn. Bob's Dad came up to help as well. Dad had a stroke last month after returning  from a Missionary trip to Cambodia and at 84 years old that's dedication! He was paralyzed for several days, but he had a miraculous recovery and is good as new again.  It's a good thing, because as usual he was up on the roof of the cabin helping Bob.

We really accomplished a lot this trip. Dad completed the electrical to the hot water heater while Bob finished installing the commodes and plumbing. With completion of venting the pipes, we tested the whirlpool tub, shower and commodes. It looks like the next time we come, we will be able to camp out in the house while we work. That will save money as well as allowing us to work longer hours.

Lyda put grass seed and lime on the slope behind the house. Then we installed some of that straw matting like the highway department uses on slopes to stop erosion. That was quite a job because the slope is so steep and tall. Bob had to stand on his tip toes on the top of a 16' extension ladder to access the starting position for each roll of straw mats. We attached it to the slope using landscape staples. Lyda also spread seeds for wild flowers all over the front slope. We hope they will germinate and take root before they get washed down the mountain.

Dad installed a night light on a post beside the Charlie Horse. It lights up the whole area at night and was a welcome site after the sun went down. We still have more electrical work to complete and that will take a few more trips.

We are pleased with the spring and the water system. The 275 gallon storage tank provides a very adequate supply and the pump provides the necessary pressure. Bob has installed drain values so we can drain the entire system in the winter. It was necessary to install a check valve in the water line coming from the tank to the pump because the water would flow back into the tank. The check value prevented that problem and the system worked flawlessly.

Each time we come to the mountains we discover something new. This time it was a really great Italian restaurant in downtown Bryson City. Pastilino's is located on Everett Street near Main street. Be sure to take a good appetite when you go because the servings are enormous. The food is awesome and the price is reasonable. Another treat was breakfast at the Everett Street Diner. Unfortunately it's only open on Monday thru Friday till noon, but they serve a wonderful breakfast. On the 4th weekend of the month they are open for Friday dinner and Sunday brunch. One day we'll have to try that!

Next trip we will work on building and installing cabinets and sinks for the bathrooms and kitchen. When we finish the electrical we will be able to call for an inspection so we can complete the installation of the wood paneling on the interior walls.

May 2004 we worked on the wiring 2 different weekends. One weekend Dad came up and we had a couple of extra days to work and the other weekend Lyda and Bob came up to work on Saturday and Sunday till noon. The phone company installed a line and Bob hooked up a phone. So now we can call the outside world. It was neat calling our friends saying "Can you hear the roar of the creek?"

Camping out in the cabin is loads of fun. Having a cup of coffee in the early morning on the porch makes it all worth while! Bob put together a log bed and we are going to use our queen size air mattress on it until we officially compete the cabin then we'll have a "real" mattress and box springs. Bob built the meter base and service pole and mounted it on the house. Pulling 00 wire is a bit of a chore.

The first of June our friends, Charlotte and Carey Evans, camped out in the cabin while they were working on their building project in Waynesville. It was good to be able to let them make use of our cabin. Even though it's not finished, it beats paying for a motel. We will come back the end of June and try to finish the electrical so we can get an inspection and then we will be able to finish up the inside walls.

Bob had wanted for a long time to come to the Singing in the Smokies, an event held on Inspiration Mountain the week of the 4th of July each year. The Inspirations, a Southern Gospel Quartet from Bryson City, hosts the event and singing groups from all over the country come in their big buses to camp out on the mountain and perform. Bob convinced Lyda, Charlotte and Carey to attend on the day of the 4th. The event started at 9am Sunday morning with a worship service and continued throughout the day. It was a wonderful day of good ole Gospel singing. Including the rain drops and the bright sunshine the weather was as varied as the music. Charlotte and Carey left around 5pm ,but Bob and Lyda stayed until the fireworks at 10pm. But long before that, Lyda had decided that she had heard enough Southern Gospel Music to last a lifetime.

The week after July 4th was spent getting ready for and passing the first plumbing and electrical inspections. We had to replace the meter base with one that had an outside cutoff because the wire coming from it to the inside panel box was 2 feet longer than the code would allow (if there was no outside cutoff). That was quite an ordeal since Bob had to redo the entire outside service. It was also necessary to use conduit between the meter base and the inside panel. The reason for the conduit was that Bob had selected individual copper wires each of which was insulated but not formed together in one cable. Unfortunately we would get anything other than Aluminum in the prepared cable and Bob didn't want to use it. I guess we're from the old school that copper is better.

Cutting through the logs for the conduit was accomplished with a SawsAll and wasn't too difficult. A few new things are in the electrical code that we didn't know about. Each bedroom's circuits have to be protected with an ArcFault detector breaker. Bob wasn't familiar with that kind of breaker. They are about $30 each. The theory is that if something like an electric blanket begins to arc, it probably wouldn't cause enough current draw to a standard breaker. But it could cause a fire. The ArcFault detector breaker senses the arc and would cause the breaker to trip anyway. We also had to rework a few circuits to meet various code requirements.

Things went ok on the plumbing. But, we will have to install backflow valves on the outside faucets. It seems kind of silly to put a backflow valve on an outside faucet in order to keep water from a hose from accidentally running uphill back into the water system which originated out of a spring from the ground in the first place. But the building code rules and it now requires the backflow valves to we shall have them.

One day, Lyda and Robbie (our son who is now in the Air Force) dragged Bob away from work for a ride on the Smoky Mountain Railroad. Starting in Bryson City and going across Fontana Lake to the Nantahala River, the trip was 2 and 1/2 hours of beautiful scenery. The trip along the river provides a birds eye view of white water rafting kayaking and canoeing. We had a wonderful time and it was good to relax for a day and enjoy the beauty of the area.

On the next trip we will finish the interior walls and begin to build some cabinets for the kitchen and bathrooms.

A very sad side note: Back in October of 2003, we mentioned that Bob and Barbara Wills had come by unexpectedly to visit and check on our progress. Bob Wills was recuperating from bypass surgery at the time. Last week, Bob and Barbara were returning from a little trip where they had celebrated their 51st birthday. A vehicle came from a side road and struck their car on Bob's side. His injuries were so sever that he did not recover. Our heartfelt prayers go out to Barbara as she morns the loss of her husband and partner of 51 years. We will greatly miss him.

After the 4th of July 2004 trip, we came back for short weekend trips in August, September and October. We put insulation in the interior walls between the bedrooms, bathrooms and the hall. We finished installing the wood on the interior walls and mounted some light fixtures in the master bath.

A late summer storm blew down trees on the power lines and across the Charlie Horse, but thankfully there was no damage except a burned up pump motor. We replaced the pump with a proper well type pump rather than the cheap little one we had originally had purchased at Harbor Freight. The better pump increased the water pressure. We had to winterize the cabin at the end of October so the pipes and drains wouldn’t freeze. In the spring we will come back and put insulation in the ceilings and work on the bathrooms.

May 2005, we returned to the cabin and it was wonderful to get back to the mountains. The pipes and drains hadn’t broken from the cold weather which was a blessing! We installed the R38 insulation in the attic. The 12 inch thick fiberglass insulation was quite a chore to install, but it was good to finally get the cabin insulated. On the night of the 17th of May the temperature got down to 39 degrees but we were warm as toast with a portable ceramic electric heater.

We purchased metal siding to install on some of the bathroom walls. It really looks good as an accent material to complement the wood walls. We used Galvalume siding which is coated to prevent rust. The hand held grinder with a metal cutting blade was the perfect tool for trimming the metal to fit.

We found a table made from barn wood at a flea market in Atlanta. Bob modified it to become the sink base for the guest bathroom. He installed a china bowl type sink basin which sits on top and made a shelf from rough sawn lumber on which to mount the faucets. Along with the wood and metal walls in the bathroom the table and sink combined to create a neat old fashioned look.

Next we used some of the original rough sawn lumber we had purchased 3 years ago as trim around the windows. Since rough sawn lumber varies in thickness it was a challenge to keep things square, but the overall look helped to match the rustic environment of the log cabin. Soon we will be able to install the wood on the ceilings and start the finishing touches of kitchen cabinets. We have one more insulation chore and that is under the house. We will have to check with the building inspector to determine what R factor we need to use under the floors.

July the 8th, 2005 we arrived ready to continue our work. We purchase the wood for the ceilings from Mondee Monteith at the sawmill. The 1x8 beaded tongue and groove boards had to be picked up at the kiln in Franklin. We rented a U-Haul truck to transport the wood. By the time we had rented the truck, loaded it, unloaded it and moved it up to the house we consumed a whole day. The price of the wood had gone up about 10% since we had purchased the wood for the walls last year.

Our son, Robbie came over from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base on Friday night where he is stationed in Goldsboro, NC. It was great to be able to visit with him. On Saturday we took a little trip down to Madison Georgia to see Bob's folks. Dad had another stroke and we wanted to spend some time with him. He was doing pretty good, but it is difficult to see him not able to talk very well! He has been such an inspiration to us on this project and would like to be able to help some more, BUT doctor's orders are for him to rest and recuperate for a while.

Sunday morning Robbie had to head back to the base and Lyda and Bob started putting up the ceilings. It was a lot of work but thank goodness we had that scaffolding which made the job easier. It took us until Wednesday to get all the ceilings put up.

While Bob finished the ceilings in the closets, Lyda began applying the stain. We chose a product called Log Guard which is water soluble. The folks at Shroeder's Log Home Supply suggested that we would only need one coat and they were correct. The light brown color was just right. The pictures on the web site actually make the stain look darker than it actually is. We miscalculated the amount of stain we needed by about 7 gallons. The specs showed a coverage area of 100-150 square feet per gallon. That may have been correct for the rough logs, but the finished walls and ceilings did not take nearly as much stain. We could have saved at least $200 by purchasing 10 gallons rather than 15. But, now we know and we will use some of the extra for staining the porch and under the eaves.

The staining process took 3 days. Our good friends the O'Dells, who had recently moved from Clinton, MS to Wake Forest, NC came over for a visit along with Lynn O'Dell's mom. The Evans, who had helped us so much during the beginning of construction also came along. The Evans are building a house on the mountain above Waynesville, about 35 miles from us. It was great for the Old Gang to get together again.

Bob had his 60th Birthday on Thursday and we celebrated at the Fryemont Inn for a fine dinner of mountain trout and all the fixin's. We read about the Fryemont Inn in Dr. Walt Larimore's books about his experiences as a young doctor who worked at the Bryson City Hospital right after he finished his residency at Duke University Medical Center. The food was just as good as he described it and the service was great as well. They topped off the meal by serving us a piece of fudge pie with a candle in honor of Bob's birthday!

Friday the 15th Adam Ball of Cold Mountain Enterprises delivered the load of creek rocks we had purchased to use for the fireplace hearth and wall. We also contracted with him to bring several loads of dirt and gravel to finish off the parking area. We asked him if he knew of anyone who had a crew of men to do hand digging. The area behind the cabin had begun to fill up with dirt around the foundation. The dirt had come from the steep incline before we had stabilized it with grass and mesh.

Adam told us to call Roger Millsaps who has a landscaping company and a crew of 5 guys who do that kind of work. Roger came on Saturday and told us that it would take 5 men 2 days to hand dig the area. It was more than we expected but the $1500 charge meant that Bob wouldn't have to do it himself. Sometimes the best tool is cash in your wallet!

About the time Adam arrived with the rocks, Bob's brother and sister-in-law, Paul and Dawn Gilmore, arrived. Paul is a professional photographer and had been working in North Georgia doing a shoot for a Chamber of Commerce publication. They had not visited the cabin before and were amazed at all the work we had accomplished. We took them to lunch at our favorite Bar-B-Que place in Bryson City and enjoyed a couple of hours rest from all the work!

On Saturday morning Bob started moving the 2000 pounds of rocks for the fireplace up the mountain. He would bring up a load and take down a load of trash to put in the trailer for transport to the dump. It took him 4 hours to move the rock and the trash. It was a welcome relief when he moved the last rock!

We finished staining all the interior walls and ceilings on Saturday afternoon, cleaned up and went to meet the Evans for dinner at Maggie's Galley in Waynesville. After dinner we went to see the Evans house. Their construction is coming along a bit slow for them but his construction guy is now putting up their siding. They have a wonderful view of the mountains from their 4,000 foot elevation.

Sunday, the 17th of July 2005 we packed up and headed back to Mississippi. We are a lot closer now to finishing this project. We have the following items left to complete: Install the ceiling fans and lights,. build the hearth and rock wall around the fireplace, install the wood floor, put in the interior doors, build the kitchen cabinets and one for our bathroom. We also need to install the trim and molding as well as insulate under the cabin. We are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel and it is a good feeling. It would be nice to work in a few long weekends and a week around labor day to get it finished. We are looking forward to spending Thanksgiving at the Cabin this year!

August the 18th, 2005 after a day's work at the office in Mississippi, we headed out for a long weekend of work on the cabin. We arrived around 1am and were greeted by a pile of gravel at the base of the Charlie Horse making it difficult to unload the car. It was evident that our gravel man had delivered but not finished spreading the gravel and fill dirt we had ordered during our trip in July.

When we got in the house and started to put the sheets on the air mattress we noticed that it had lost a lot of air. That was odd because it usually held air for months. So we pumped it back up and fell into bed dead tired. About 2:30am we woke up and realized that the air mattress had deflated and we were lying on the hard slats of the bed. Half asleep we found another mattress and put it under the partially deflated one and fell back asleep.

Around 5:30am., Bob was awakened by a flash light being shined through our windows. Trying to jump out of bed, Bob got a charlie horse in his calf and had to work it out before getting up. Tip toeing to the window that overlooks our steep path up the mountain, Bob saw two people ascending the path each carrying a flash light. His first thought was someone is going to try to break in and we don't have any way to protect ourselves.

As the two lights got closer to the house, Bob could make out 2 men in uniforms. Relieved that we were safe, he jerked open the door and standing there in his skivvies hollered, "can I help you". A startled sheriff deputy said, "we're trying to find out what is going on up here". He went on to explain that a 911 call had been received from our address. They had tried to call back but they got a busy signal.

Bob went to the phone and picked it up and there was a terrible noise on the line. Handing it to the deputy Bob said that evidently there was some problem with the telephone and it had somehow triggered a false call to 911.

Wow, what an adventurous start to our long weekend in the mountains to build a stone wall around the fireplace inside the house. After the sun came up, Bob went to inspect the work that was to have been completed by a landscape company to remove dirt from the back on the house. We had contracted with the company to clean out the dirt that had sloughed off the mountain behind the house.

Unfortunately they didn't move much of the dirt. So faced with having to go to Bryson City to make some phone calls, we did the only thing two hard working people can do when faced with adversity....we went out for breakfast.

After calling the phone company and being informed that they could fix the phone by 3pm Tuesday (2 days after we were going to leave), Bob talked with the gravel man and the landscape contractor. The landscape guy got his feathers ruffled because he said that they had moved all the dirt they had been contracted to move. Bob questioned whether they had in fact put in the 75 man hours for which we had paid and that made the man all the more mad.

Well, it was time to get back to the cabin and work on the stone wall we had come to put up in the first place. Incidentally later in the morning the landscape man came buy and looked at the work his people had done and said, "Well I be, Skeeter let me down" He said his people had told him they had finished the job, but unfortunately they hadn't. So he promised to get them back on Monday to move the rest of the dirt.

Meanwhile back to the work ... We moved the mortar mix from the car up the mountain with the lathe and our tools and started working on the project. The first step was to put up some boards on the wall around the perimeter of the area where the stone was to be installed. Next, we put visquine (that is southern for plastic sheeting) on the wall area where the mortar was to be applied. The plastic keeps the moisture in the mortar from wicking into the logs.

Bob then mounted sheets of metal lathe over the plastic which enables a good bond between the mortar and the wall. He also built a frame over the fireplace opening to support the rocks until the mortar hardens. Meanwhile, Lyda was laying out the stones on the floor like they would be installed on the wall.

We decided to make the mantle from one of the logs that was left over from constructing the cabin. Bob drilled three holes and then counter sunk them to allow the 8" lag bolts to be installed with the dowels inserted to cover the bolts. The dowels were cut 4" longer than the depth of the counter sunk holes to provide pegs for Lyda to use later when decorating. (Gotta think ahead on these important things!)

Getting the mortar just the right moisture content was bit of a chore. It can't be too wet or it will slough off the metal lathe. If it is too dry then it also does not adhere properly. It took the rest of the day to mix and apply a coat of mortar to the metal lathe.

Around 5pm our friends, the Evans, from Clinton, MS showed up and we went to dinner at Pasquilinos in Bryson City. That was a welcome relief at the end of a  hard day (and a short adventurous night).

Bright and early Saturday morning Bob mounted the mantle on the wall and mixed a batch of mortar to begin applying the rocks. The left side of the fireplace went very smoothly, but when Bob started on the right side some of the stones fell off. About this time Bob realized that he should have gotten some gloves because he began to get sores on his hands from the mortar. So Lyda went to town to find the gloves.

Meanwhile Bob continued to put up the stones. And wouldn't you know it, those same ones fell of the wall again. After 4 times, Bob was about ready to call a Stone Mason! But perseverance prevailed and the 5th time was the charm. Actually he mixed the mortar with more moisture and that helped solve the problem. It was also important to pick stones that have enough of an edge so they can rest on each other. A stone with a tapered edge just seems to slide off.

I am sure that we broke all the rules in the Stone Mason's manual doing this project but we were sure proud when we had them all on the wall. After finishing putting up the stones we used a brush to remove some of the mortar from between the rocks in order to provide more relief and deeper cracks.

We washed the stones with water, but it was still evident that we needed something stronger to remove the mortar residue that had coated the stones. So that meant a trip to Lowe's in Franklin, NC. to get some muratic acid. And ... Lowe's is just a block away from Fat Buddies, our favorite place for ribs!

Armed with full tummies and a gallon of acid we made the 35 mile trip back to the cabin and promptly fell into bed and were soon fast asleep. Sunday morning Bob was up bright and early suited up in his chemical protection gear to put the acid on the stones. It is amazing what a little acid will do to a coating of mortar. It cleaned the stones and made the wall look just like a professional had built it. (Of course we may be a little prejudice, but it really looks good!)

Bob was almost tempted to build the hearth right then and there, but common sense ruled and we headed back to Mississippi knowing that we would be back over the labor day holiday to finish the hearth and install the 12" ship lap pine floors!

Unfortunately hurricane Katrina stopped our plans from coming up over labor day. We couldn't get gas to make the trip. We were fortunate to only be out of power for a week but our neighbors on the Mississippi coast were devastated by the storm. It will be many years before the Mississippi coast returns to normal.

The end of September we made a trip to the coast to help with the restoration of a church in Pascagoula. We also had the opportunity to help some of the people rebuild their houses. Rebuilding lives will take a lot longer. We ask that all of our friends remember in prayer those unfortunate people on the Mississippi coast.

In October we came back to the mountains for a long weekend and finished the hearth. It was good to be able to complete that project. Robbie came over from Seymour Johnson Air Force base and spent the weekend with us. He hung the ceiling fans through the cabin as well as the wooden blinds. Bob completed the sink base for our bathroom and we bought a dehumidifier to help remove the moisture.

We are still waiting for the guy to come back and clean the rest of the dirt out from behind the house. Lesson learned, do pay someone up front. Pay after they do the job. After months and repeated phone calls the guy finally came in the spring and did the work. I guess we were lucky he actually finished the job.

In June of 2006 we finally made it back to the cabin. We worked on trim work, finishing the living room walls at the top where the scissor trusses meet the regular trusses and did some other odd jobs. Robbie and his girlfriend Kristi came for a couple of days. Robbie is being deployed to the United Arab Emirates and we wanted a chance to spend some time with him before he left. We went on the Smokey Mountain Railroad and also rode on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was a great time for our family to be together. We wish Robbie safety as he travels and serves in Middle East for a while. We hope he will be back in September 2006.

In July 2006, we came up again for a long weekend. We spent 3 days building the kitchen. Now Lyda can wash dishes in a real sink instead of the bath tub. We were pleased with the way the kitchen turned out. Originally Bob had planned to build all the cabinets from scratch but there just wasn't enough time. So, we went to Lowes and purchase some unfinished base cabinets. That was a wise move, because it still took a lot of time to properly install them, add the counter tops, sink and plumbing. But as usual, we rewarded ourselves for all our hard work with a feast of bar-b-que ribs from Fat Buddies in Waynesville.

Around the end of July we made a final decision for the flooring that we would use throughout the cabin. Originally we had thought we would purchase 12" wide pine and then we decided on 8" poplar. However, we were introduced to a man who is a wholesaler for finished hardwood flooring. We were able to purchase pre-finished oak for the cabin for $2.25 per square foot. It is beautiful material. Of course, we have to transport the 1 1/2 tons of wood to the mountains. We also were able to purchase a side by side refrigerator, double stack washer/dryer and stove in Mississippi at very low prices. So, we will have to transport those as well. We are hoping to be able to go back to the mountains around the middle of August and install the flooring.

On August 11th Bob took a couple of days vacation. We loaded up a trailer with the flooring, washer/dryer, stove and fridge and headed for the mountains. With the heavy load and torrents of rain it took longer than usual to make the trip and we arrived at the cabin around midnight.

Early the next morning it was still raining but we moved about 21 boxes of flooring up to the cabin from the trailer. The Charlie Horse seem to strain under the load but later Bob discovered that the batteries were not charging properly and the replacement of a battery lead and a mended wire had it working at full speed again.

First we tacked down 15lb felt on the sub floor to provide a moisture barrier under the flooring. The most tedious job of installing a hardwood floor is getting it started correctly. We used 4 1/2" wide flooring that is 3/4" thick. We created a beginning line which would transition throughout the whole cabin as the installation progressed. Starting 5 inches away from the kitchen wall, we snapped a chalk line to align the first course of wood. Then laying the wood along the chalk line, we used a laser to sight down the edge of the boards insuring the accuracy of their alignment.

The first boards had to be surface and toe nailed using a 2" brad nailer because that course is too close to the wall to use the flooring nailer. On the 2nd and subsequent courses we used a special flooring nailer. The nailer is aligned along the tongue of the tongue and groove flooring and then struck with a rubber mallet. Striking the nailer causes it to push the board tightly against the previous board and fires air into a cylinder driving the nail cleat through the tongue into the sub floor. This type of nailing system provides a good stable "creakless" floor.

Since we had already installed the kitchen cabinets, it was necessary to fit the floor around them. In hindsight, it would have been better to have installed the flooring before installing the cabinets. But being amateurs, we have had lots of opportunities to learn what not to do the next time.

By the end of the first day we had completed about half of the kitchen and moved in the stove. We also were please to host some folks from Mississippi who dropped by to check on our progress. Sharon and Carroll Blackledge and their daughter Rachel and boyfriend Jonah Gunalda were vacationing in Bryson City. Carroll is our Cingular representative at the office and has been keeping tabs on our progress through this web site. It is always fun to have folks from back home come by for a visit.

On Saturday morning we finished the kitchen, completed the hall and a portion of the guest bath. Bob moved up the other 32 boxes of flooring. Charlotte and Carey Evans, from Clinton, MS came by just in time for Carey and Bob to move up the refrigerator and the washer/dryer. That was quite a load for the old Charlie Horse but it performed flawlessly as usual.

Sunday we completed the floor for the master bedroom and met the Evans at Pasqualino's for a well deserved Italian dinner. Sporting a few more aches and pains,  we loaded up Monday, the 14th of August for the trip back to Mississippi with a great sense of accomplish. We had learned a new building trade (installing hardwood flooring) and were very happy with the results. Hopefully it won't be long until we can come back and finish the flooring project.

Labor day weekend 2006 provided a hurricane safe time to come back to the mountains. Hurricane Ernesto thankfully was in the eastern part of North Carolina which spared us the agony of working in down pouring rain. We remembered the events of one year ago when hurricane Katrina prevented us from coming over Labor Day.

We arrived Friday night and began early Saturday working again on the hardwood floors. We finished the guest and master bath floors after much cutting and fitting. Of course we have to remove the commodes first so we could put the flooring under the collar. Putting on new wax seals and bolting down the commodes put the finishing touches on each bath. After another day of bending and crawling around on the floor we were ready for a treat at Fat Buddies where we are ribs to celebrate a hard day's work.

Sunday we completed the guest bedroom floor after spending half the day moving all of the tools and boxes from the room. We have been using the guest bedroom as a storage area while we worked on the rest of the cabin. Late Sunday afternoon we put the last of the roofing felt on the living room floor and started nailing the floor there. Our backs were getting pretty stiff from all the stooping and bending while working on the floor! So, as usual we had to reward ourselves for a good days work and drove into Bryson City to visit our favorite Italian restaurant, Pasqualino's.

Monday morning, Labor Day while working on the living room floor, we received a call from Simon and Jenny Los telling us they would be up in a couple of hours to see us. Simon works for a company named Agrisoft which supplies software to Cal-Maine Foods where Bob works. He had visited Bob at the office in Jackson, Mississippi several weeks ago and Bob showed him this web site. Simon mentioned that he and his wife might ride their motorcycle up on Labor Day.

Simon and Jenny live in North Georgia, but since it was raining, they came in their car. When they arrived, Jenny was a bit apprehensive about riding up on the Charlie Horse. But, she was a good sport and closed her eyes and gritted her teeth during the LONG ride up the mountain. It was great to visit with them and make some new friends. We took the opportunity to go to Bryson City for some lunch and discovered a new restaurant named Jimmy Macs. The food was good and the fellowship with Simon and Jenny was enjoyable and relaxing. As it turns out, Simon and Jenny will be going to a conference in California in October that we will be attending. So Jenny and Lyda will be able to pal around while Bob and Simon work.

Monday afternoon we loaded up many of the tools and items that we no longer need at the cabin. It is great to get the cabin cleaned up and prepare to put the finishing touches on our 4 years of work. The remaining tasks are to install insulation under the floors, finish the trim work and install a heating and air conditioning system. We also have some lights and a ceiling fan to install. And of course, pass the inspections!

We still need to find someone who can build some steps up to the cabin. We really had hopes for Adam Ball, who had prepared our parking area, but after over a year of waiting, we've given up on him doing the steps. It is amazing how difficult it is to find people to do work in the mountains. The construction people seem to be quite lackadaisical in their attitudes. Maybe we'll be fortunate to find someone before long who can do that job. Bob doesn't really want to tackle the task of building 85 feet of steps up the mountain. It will be necessary to use a small track hoe to dig out and place the railroad ties which will be used to construct the steps.

Another winter has come and gone. It is 2007 and the May flowers sparked our interest in coming back to the mountains. Bob's mother passed away in February and Bob's Dad wanted to come back to the cabin. Since he has had several stokes he has a difficult time carrying on a conversation, but he really gets excited when there is work to do.

We purchased a window air conditioner/heating unit and installed it in the kitchen/living area. Although it stays cool most of the year, in the months of July and August a little air conditioning can be helpful. Bob installed the porch railings which are 42" high and raised 3" off the porch. That provides a very safe barrier between the porch and "drop off".

Russell and Cynthia Broome, a couple from Clinton, Mississippi came by for a visit while they were vacationing in Gatlinburg. It is always fun to see people from back home who have heard about our little adventure and grace us with a visit to see how the work in progressing.

We met some neighbors from the Crosspatch area. We asked if they knew someone who could build our steps and they gave us the name of one of their neighbors named Wayne Young. Wayne is retired and moved to the mountains from Tampa. He works with Randy Smith Construction in Bryson City. Wayne gave us the phone number for
Randy Smith who came by to provide a quote for the steps.

We knew that building steps would be a difficult task, but were not prepared for it to cost $5000. However, we had tried several times to find someone to build the steps and had been unsuccessful. Reluctantly, we shook hands and contracted Randy's company to do the work because they could start right away and we needed to have the steps completed before we could get another inspection.

After we got back to Mississippi, a friend of ours, Joe Wyatt asked if we had thought to ask Randy Smith about installing the insulation under the cabin. We had purchased the insulation in the fall and had it sitting on the porch covered up with plastic. When Bob called Randy, he said that he would be happy to do that since they had been delayed several days getting started on the steps waiting for material.

What a relief to have someone else install that insulation. It is one of those jobs that Bob was really dreading. Several days later Randy called to say they had completed the insulation installation and were starting on the steps. It took over three weeks for them to complete the steps. As it turned out, it was a very difficult job because footings had to be hand dug and filled with concrete to create stable pads for the posts. Four landings had to be constructed to create a proper transition for the 48 steps from the parking area to the porch. Considering how long it took and the degree of difficulty, the price of $5000 now doesn't seem so "steep".

In June 2007, we had another opportunity to work on the cabin and since the steps were completed it was time for an inspection. The last inspection was in 2004, so we were somewhat apprehensive about what to expect. To our delight, we passed the final plumbing, electrical and insulation inspections. The inspector asked us to have an engineer sign off on the plans from which we constructed the porch using a cantilever design. The inspector also said we needed to redo the French drain that had been placed along the rear of the cabin because the mountain had sloughed off and filled up several feet along the foundation. He wanted us to have more heat in the cabin as well a putting some joist hangers in place under the porch.

Wayne Young introduced us to Jeff Coggins from Webster, NC, who will put in gutters. That is another job Bob was dreading because it requires working off of the roof. Randy Smith will have a crew put in the French drain and tie the drains from the gutters together to prevent any additional run off problems with water. The next trip we will install another air conditioner/heater unit which will solve the issue of not having enough heat. Then, we hope to have our certificate of occupancy in hand soon thereafter.

At last, we can really see the completion of this log cabin as a reality. It has been 5 years since we started this project. Even though we live 9 hours away and are only able to spend a few days scattered throughout the year working, we have almost accomplished our quest for a log home in the mountains. The 5 years have passed quickly and it is hard to believe we are so close to finishing the project.

July 27th found us on the way to the mountains again. Randy Smith has completed construction of the French Drain, an engineer has inspected and signed off on the cantilever design of the porch, and all the joist hangers are in place. We purchased another window AC/heating unit and moved the original one from the living area to the guest bedroom. After putting the new larger unit in the living area we now have a total of 27,000 BTUs of heating.

Monday, the 30th of July, we waited patiently for the inspector to arrive. We sat on the front porch, rocked in our new rocking chairs, listened to the creek, read our books and waited. Our plans were to leave immediately after the inspection to drive back to Mississippi. After 5 years of working on this project it was a bit disconcerting to wait with great anticipation for the arrival of the inspector. Finally the inspector arrived. It was 10 minutes to 4 in the afternoon. I could tell he was focused on the list in his hand. Sure enough he looked at the bolts in the band attaching the porch to the house, he also looked at the new bolts the engineer wanted in the support timbers on the cantilevered porch, he inspected the French drain, review the engineer's document approving the design of the porch. Then he looked at the new AC/heating units and reviewed the specs on the BTUs of heating. We waited, the moment had finally arrived. Would we pass the final inspection? His answer was, "we will need to review all of paper work and make sure we haven't missed anything and then we will let you know if we can issue the certificate of occupancy."

We headed for Mississippi with our hopes high that all would be ok. On the way, Bob checked his email and saw that the inspection had written us a note. It said, "we don't have a copy of your termite pretreatment certificate in our file and we need that before we can issue the certificate of occupancy. Now, that created a dilemma. The termite pretreatment had been done in 2002. We couldn't find any paper work to prove that it had been accomplished. Randy Jenkins had contacted the termite company and we had paid for it, but we just couldn't find the paperwork.

Bob sent an email back to the inspector asking for a list of termite companies in the area. He hoped he might remember who did it, if he saw their name. The list came and none of the names rang a bell. So ... what to do? We could pay someone to do it again. Or, we could call some of the pest control companies and see if anyone had a record of having completed our work in 2002. On the third call we reached a lady named Patty at Cherohala Pest Control. She said that her husband had purchased the Cherokee Pest Control company in 2004 and the previous owner had left her very little paper work. But, she would look to see if perhaps there still exists a copy of a contract for pretreatment of our site on Coopers Creek Road. I had almost given up hope when the phone rang and Patty announced that she had found a contract stating that on the 21st of August 2002 Cherokee Pest Control had indeed pretreated the cabin site area.

Praise the Lord, what a miracle that we would be led to just the right person who could produce the final piece of paper that would allow us to get that important Certificate of Occupancy. On July 31st 2007, the inspector called Duke Power and authorized the permanent connection of our electricity. At last everything was ready for us to officially occupy the cabin. On Wednesday, August the 1st Duke Power completed the power connection.

For those who have helped along the way, we are very grateful for your time and energy in encouraging and helping us through this great adventure. For those of you who have followed our Quest, we thank you for your interest in our project. Through patience, determination, persistence, and with the blessing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we are honored to dedicate this place of quiet respite and relaxation to be enjoyed by many in the years to come.

And now, the real adventure begins.......

Bob and Lyda Gilmore, August 1, 2007