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Winter's Fury and a Relaxing Road Trip

Skid Steer Snow Clearing
Rich clears two feet of drifted snow from the driveway
February 14th, 2007

Almost two feet of snow descended from the heavens over the past two days. Rich plowed what was possible and then tackled the tall drifts with his skid steer. Inside the unheated house I steadily secured rafters with hurricane ties. Every truss must be securely anchored to the top of each wall with a thick metal bracket and 12 galvanized steel nails. The work is tedious but I enjoyed it despite the frosty temperatures. Justin, one of the skilled electricians, clambered amongst the rafters stringing cable and wiring switch boxes. Meanwhile, Rob and his heating crew diligently toiled on the second floor furnace ducting and venting. Everyone was working hard and most, if not all, were enjoying their work.

Tim Brockett at work
The author, Tim Brockett, nails hurricane ties
House Rafter Wiring
Justin the electrician wires a switch box in the rafters
Duct Work
Ben's skill is reflected in his fine work

Rob and Ben of D. W. Burns carefully installed two furnaces with air conditioners and humidifiers in the new house. The basement furnace serves the ground and first floor with a zoned heating system for maximum efficiency. The second floor furnace is smaller and heats just that floor. The ducts, were custom designed and meticulously installed, by Rob and Ben. Rob follows what he calls the three P's, "plumb, parallel and perpendicular". Note how straight and true the ductwork is in the photo to your right.

Pride in work
Rob proudly stands by his freshly installed
second floor furnace and air conditioner
Like a fine tapestry, the heating, plumbing and electrical
lines are carefully woven into the fabric of the new house
Keith measures twice and cuts once

Foresight is far more helpful than hindsight when building a house. Someday, if God is willing, I will get old and I may be less steady on my feet. Accordingly, I asked Rich to install grab bars for all the showers and tubs. Keith carefully measured, cut and installed the 2x4 backing for the bars. Rich also designed low rise stairs with wide treads and dual banisters for extra safety. Jake and his electrical crew installed softly illuminating tread lights, and dimming wall sconces, so the stairs are easy to negotiate at night. All the interior doors and faucets will have lever style handles, in case my Mom's arthritis, is passed on to me. My health, like my life, is blessed. But if that should change, the main floor of the house is wheelchair accessible and friendly.

Pedro and Kim share a joke during lunch
Pedro taped and sealed every sheetrock
wall and ceiling in the new home
PVC Pipes
PVC drain pipes are skillfully woven between
the floor joists for the Master Bath plumbing

Details...they are critical to building a successful house. After the fire I spent 7 to 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, poring over the details of my new house. What purpose would each room serve? How big should the closets be? What size windows and where should they be placed? How easy was it to move from room to room? What kind of lights should I use? Which rooms were public and thus formal and which ones were private and therefore more relaxed? My time spent pondering the details was difficult and tiresome. I never designed a house and was woefully ignorant on the subject. As the long hours wore into weeks and months I educated myself by reading fine books about architecture. I learned about the Greeks and their temples, about Vitruvius, Palladio and the Italian Renaissance. I studied Classical design and discovered beauty as the sum of order and harmony as the ancient Greeks did almost 3,000 years ago.

Electrical Cable Holder
Neatly organized electrical cable
Basement Framing
The basement is a sea of studs
Montana Sunset
The sun sets and we call it a day....

Road Trip to Colorado

Sagebrush Basins
Wyoming's Sagebrush Basins
February 19th, 2007

Ipacked a loaf of bread, peanut butter and jelly, enough clothes for a week, put a couple hundred dollars in my pocket, tossed twenty CD's in the front seat and turned the Jeep onto the dirt road in front of my temporary home. Shania Twain kept me company as I bounced down the rough mountain road onto route 89 north. Together, we headed towards Livingston and then hopped on that great American invention, the Interstate Highway. As the western sun dipped towards the horizon, we sailed east while watching the distant buttes turn pink, orange and then shades of black. A million or more stars pierced the darkening sky as the miles quickly rolled away beneath us.

Open Road Beckons
The open road beckons...
Bow River Trading Company
The trading business is not so good but who cares
when you have an oil well in the front yard!
The Virginian Hotel
The Virginian Hotel in Medicine Bow, Wyoming

Serendipity. I felt like a Persian Prince from Serendip when I discovered the small town of Medicine Bow, Wyoming after leaving the Interstate Highway at daybreak. Last fall, Paul Cunningham, a Branford Bike web site reader and customer, kindly sent me a book titled "The Virginian". It was written by Owen Wister in 1902 and is widely credited with bringing the wild west, cowboys and a full cast of characters to the attention of America and the world. Owen discovered the west in Medicine Bow; a frontier town of 29 buildings. He described Medicine Bow as a primitive and fearful place where the only public bed in town was the counter at the general store. I can report that the town grew a little over the past century and now sports a big hotel named after Owen's book. But it is still more than a little rough around the edges and the next town is two days away by horseback.

Ionic Greek Columns
Classic architecture in Medicine Bow
with fluted, Greek Ionic, columns
Railroad Station Medicine Bow
The Medicine Bow, Wyoming railroad station
Denver Traffic Jam
Late afternoon traffic jam north of Denver, Colorado
February 21st, 2007

Iventured back on to the Interstate Highway after crossing the Colorado/Wyoming border. The quiet vistas and peaceful rolling hills of Wyoming were replaced with miles long snarls of traffic and endless roadside clutter. The narrow, two lane Interstate was vastly overburdened with traffic which often moved bumper to bumper, at 70 miles an hour or more. It was every man for himself and white knuckle driving all the way south to Colorado Springs.

The next day I visited the grave of my brother Larry, who passed away at an early age from cancer, in 2003. Next I drove to one of his favorite spots in Colorado Springs; Garden of the Gods. As I wandered the winding pathways I reminisced about the times we spent together growing up in Branford, Connecticut.

Lawrence Brockett Grave
My brother, Larry Brockett, passed away in November 2003
Tim and Julie
Pike's Peak looms over Julie and I at the
Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs
Broadmoor Hotel
Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, Colorado

My journey continued south towards New Mexico through pine covered rolling hills and valleys thick with grass and sagebrush. Towards mid-afternoon I turned the Jeep north and west towards Colorado's highest mountain peaks. I followed in the tracks of Lieutenant Zeubulon Pike who attempted to climb his namesake mountain but was forced back by a raging snow storm. He concluded that no human could ever ascend it. In December of 1806 Pike and his men went on to explore the Arkansas river to its source in what is now Leadville, Colorado. After silver was discovered in Leadville, competing railroad crews fought gun battles in the Arkansas river canyon. Finally the Supreme Court in Washington D.C. weighed the case. Silver, peace and prosperity soon flowed from the river valley and helped to build the great city of Denver.

2004 Jeep Rubicon
My Jeep Rubicon - faster than a speeding stagecoach, more
comfortable than a horse and climbs mountains like a Dall sheep
Arkansas River in Colorado
The Arkansas river and canyon in southern Colorado
Leadville, Colorado
Leadville, Colorado - a breath taking
10,152 feet above sea level
February 23rd, 2007

The air was crisp, cold, dry and thin in Leadville. I found a Super 8 motel and settled in for the night. Before bed I studied a little Leadville history.

Around 1880, 30,000 rough and tumble miners called this city in the clouds, home. Vast fortunes were made and lost over the next 20 years as silver and some gold was dug from the nearby mountains. Many 14,000 foot plus peaks including Mount Massive and Mount Elbert surround Leadville. The old town section has several beautifully restored buildings

Leadville, Colorado
Downtown Leadville, Colorado is full of
19th century, classically adorned buildings
Masonic Temple in Leadville
The Masonic Temple dates from 1910
1879 Silver Dollar Saloon
Classic Architecture - Note the corbels and rosettes
under the eaves and the lintels above each window
Pilasters, flattened columns, with a capital and base
surround the doors and separate the windows
Leadville Colorado
Leadville is nestled high in the Rocky mountains of western Colorado

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