Saturday, February 8, 2014

3 Years Out: All Good Things Must End (But Not All Endings Are Forever)

Life doesn't always work out quite the way we plan. To the point, I never would have ended up in Waldo had my life leading up to Arkansas fit directly into the everyday, high-school-to-college-to-career mold. Looking back, I can't pinpoint one particular instance that made me jump ship from my immediate academic present to go off chasing some adventurous future. (That said, I could venture a couple of good guesses...) Maybe I had just enough of a rebellious streak to be destined to fall into this situation. Or maybe the stars happened to align just so. Regardless, molds are boring (and chainsaws are fun).

But getting back the 'things not working out quite as we plan' thought. Every beginning needs a fitting end, and much like I stumbled into the beginning of this adventure (if I recall correctly, I drove by a grove of black walnut trees and happened to think, "I'd love to build a log cabin"), I'm stumbling into the end.

It's been almost three years since I left the woods of Waldo and a lot has happened to me--I'm a different person. Not long after returning home, the hard drive with all of my pictures crashed before I ever posted a conclusion to my Arkansas adventure. There was a lot of annoyance and gnashing of teeth, and eventually I coped and moved on. But lo and behold, nearly three years and at least two different lives away, my dumb luck refuses to run out. In helping a friend photograph some plans for a design, I happened to pull out a SDHC card from an old camera, only to find the latter half of my Arkansas pictures still intact on the card.

Before I give way to these long-lost pictures, I'll certainly try to give my own thousand words (those who know me would expect no less). Arkansas touched me in a very real way. I learned from the experience. Not only did I learn a new set of skills, but I learned a great deal about myself and about what makes me tick. It took me a few years to put all the pieces together, but my work in Arkansas led to me being recruited to travel to New Zealand to work with the Mokihinui-Lyell Backcountry Trust on the Old Ghost Road project, building the Specimen Point cabin. New Zealand was a most amazing experience that directly helped influence the path I took towards a return to school. Both New Zealand and my time in Waldo (and always most importantly, my time at Camp) helped cement in me a desire to work with the land. It's a direct reason for my being where I am today (currently finishing school, getting a degree in Landscape Design from NC State). A little bit of each of these elements is still visible in everything I design.

Let me put it simply: if I could live a portion of my life over-and-over again on a continuous repeat--despite all of the freezing temperatures, icy-wet weather, tree-felling terror, and minor annoyances--I would be eating rice and beans in a makeshift camp outside of Waldo, Arkansas from here on and into eternity, with gasoline on my hands and sawdust in my beard. Amen.

How does one cut a rounded notch with a straight saw...?
...very slowly and meticulously.
10" TimberLoks go a long way to add stability, but they're a real pain when tightened with a ratchet.
I tried to keep as much of the roof structure made from cut logs as possible.

I'm particularly proud of my door handle.
A view from inside.
...and another...
Almost done...

Finishing up the sides.

All but done. A drastic haircut is one of the most vital remaining steps.

A final parting shot, moments before I left my home away from home. (Don't worry, after the shot I ran back and latched the front door.)