Thursday, July 23, 2009

Registering the Cardinal, or RED TAPE EVERYWHERE!

A few weeks ago, we decided that the Cardinal really needed its own set of Colorado license plates, so we took a trip to the DMV. First, they sent us for a VIN verification with 3 day temporary tags. We got to the dealer, who couldn't find a VIN anywhere... and decided that since the tongue had obviously been replaced and a larger one fishplated on that the previous VIN had been cut off in the switch. He told us to go to the state patrol.

We get to the state patrol, only to find out that they do VIN verifications ONLY every other Thursday... and the next one was in 11 days. (8 days past our temp tags, and a brand new NON WAIVABLE late fee of $25 imposed by the great state of Colorado as a money making scheme in effect. Seriously... they even called it that when they voted it in). We make the appointment.

We get to the state patrol. SP looks at the trailer and says "Yep... the VIN should be right there, but they cut it off. Any sign of manufacturer on there?".

Now... it's pretty obvious it's a Cardinal IF you've done the research on vintage Cardinal logos... our trailer has a most of a very faded bird with the words Deluxe, Adams, and Del Monte, Calif. on it in the exact position it should be. But... the word Cardinal is faded off... and our SP officer is not a vintage trailer researcher. He poked around in all the cabinets, saying "ones just a little newer than this have manufacturer info inside a door." LUCKILY he decided to write on the form that he saw the manufacturer's name on there (that would have been 10 more forms and hassle, I'm SURE!).

He wrote it all up, found 2 more forms for us to fill out, told us to get it weighed and certified, and sent us on his way. He really did a great job of making sure all of the i's were dotted and the t's were crossed... he say "I hope I don't offend, but the folks over at the DMV can be VERY anal. Let's try to get this perfect".

Took it into the DMV the next day... and after filling out 3 more forms, we had a new little tin plate and CO VIN number to rivet to the trailer. We were pretty excited... until the phone rang on Monday.
Turns out, there's ANOTHER form to fill out AND we needed a professional appraisal done by an RV dealer printed on company letter head. Not too hard, right?

After calling every single dealer in the entire Northern Colorado area (including no less than 5 cities, and numerous towns)... and having started in on North Denver... I still hadn't found anyone willing or able to do an appraisal. I called no less than TWENTY FIVE dealers, with negatives all around. Every one said "Not in the blue book, so we can't do it" or "We don't do appraisals."

Then, I remembered that the SECOND dealer I called on Friday had just taken my name and number for a call back from the sales manager. I hadn't received a call back, and at the time, I just assumed that they couldn't do it just like everyone else and were just not taking the time to tell me "no".

I called them and was overjoyed to hear them say they would do it the next afternoon... and she apologized for not getting back with me (she recognized the request... I didn't say a thing)! I just got back from the appraisal AND from the DMV. The VERY nice woman at the DMV spent 10 minutes making every single i was dotted and t was crossed, and sent it in to the state!
I'll be checking the mail in 2 to 4 weeks for that title!

By the way... the RV dealer I got the appraisal from had a cute little 1958 Fleetwood 10 foot trailer they had on the "back lot" ... said it needed a lot of work by a willing pair of hands. It didn't LOOK much worse than ours from the outside. I was tempted... but decided not to go look. They said they sell things like that to a man in Cheyenne for trailer beds for $200 or so... maybe I should go back

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Well, a Few of You Warned Me...

... but it was too late. I'm sidelined temporarily by what is likely quadriceps tendonitis, an over-use injury of the tendon right above the patella.

I have NO idea what caused it... no REALLY.
Ok... maybe moving a ton or two of rocks by myself could cause an overuse injury. Think so?

I've been icing for the past few days, and generally keeping off of it. It's starting to feel normal! I'm hoping that by tomorrow I might be able to do some light, NON-knee bending activities.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Edging Done...

... for the gravel path surrounding the raised garden beds.

First, I dug a narrow trench; I marked guide "holes" at the end and the middle, and then set to work:
After digging the trench, I carried the stones back over (you may remember that this is where they WERE before I moved them across the yard... back again) and laid them out:
I was careful to choose only stones with a relatively flat edge, as I hope to have the edge flush with the grass for easy mowing.

I chose NOT to use landscaping fabric for two reasons (actually... three):
1) It's made of plastic, and I don't want to add more. (Please ignore the landscaping fabric in the fire circle... it was installed 2 years ago).
2) It isn't fool proof; see fire pit from two years ago.
3) It's expensive.

I'll line under the gravel with heavy sheets of newspaper; the edging stones will just have to accept grass growing between them.
Here is the finished edge; now I need to remove about an inch of soil between the edge and the beds to make room for two inches of gravel.

We are trying to decide between straight 3/8 inch crushed rock, and between the 3/8 minus (or breeze) rock that creates more of a hard packed path. Also trying to decide on color... I'm thinking grey would be nice. Not buttery yellow... but maybe rose/red. It's the cheapest. Seems funny to be buying rocks... especially since I see craigslist adds of people giving away landscaping rocks all the time. It's usually the 3/4 to 1 1/2 inch rocks, though... the kind that don't make a nice path... or pea gravel, which I am not a big fan of.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Filling in the Garden Path

We have been hard at work in the yard; one of our tasks is filling in the garden path surrounding the fire pit. We decided to do a path of flat stone in random shapes and sizes. This involves a sledgehammer, a hammer, and a stone chisel.

Or, if you don't have a stone chisel... a hammer turned around!
Here, we are beveling the edges slightly in a random pattern, so that the stones aren't too sharp on top and so they look more "natural". This is a great way to chip off a larger portion of stone so as to make a better fit in the walkway.

We are filling in between the flat stones with homemade gravel. Much of the gravel comes from the beveling and shaping process; the rest is coming from a few chunks of limestone that have no other purpose in our yard. The sledgehammer is INDISPENSABLE in gravel making!



We are about two thirds of the way done with the path, but have run out of flat stone. Our "supplier" is gathering another pallet or so for us to use... no finishing until then!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

More Stone Beds

Three more stone garden beds, in a neat row (you can see the EVIL bush poking up over the fence- what IS it?):

The dogs knocked over a stone on the last one by playing body-slam tag into the wall right before I took the picture; I hadn't filled the cracks with stones chips yet. Funny pups never even blinked! I'll assume that the stone wasn't a good match for that spot, and replace it with another. The beds are generally steady and firm; filling with dirt/compost/manure will help their stability as well. I wouldn't recommend stacking these stones THREE deep in a single stone wide wall.

Each bed is approximately 4 feet wide, and 8 feet long, with a 2 foot path between each and along the fence. I ran out of newspaper, and so only covered the edges of the beds; I will fill in with massive quantities of newspaper later to smoother the grass poking up in the middle of each. One more bed to go!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Any Idea What THIS Evil Plant Is?

This plant/bush/vine has been terrorizing me for 5 years. It seemed innocuous enough when we moved in, just a nice bush with small pinky purple flowers drifting over the neighbor's fence. Then, it started to take over the yard.

You can see a bit of it coming over the neighbor's fence in yesterday's pictures... and here's a few old ones of it at it's finest:
(complete with garter snake and small purple flower)
(complete with fuzzy puppy who is stalking the garter snake).

The growth you can see appears to be second year growth... the first year's growth appears to be non-woody and have much larger leaves. The bush has runner type roots. I can pull or dig a plant up as far as I can, but I won't have gotten it all. A few weeks ago, I went all out and clipped EVERY bushlet in my yard down and painted each remained stumplet with stump killer. Last week, those stumplets were covered in new green growth.

Save me from the bush!

What is this plant?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Raised Beds of Stone

I was inspired at some point by Paul at Homeowner's Blog to build some raised gardens out of stone. We have piles of rubble stone at our disposal, and when I saw this picture I knew what I was going to do!

Here is the first bed. First, I laid down several thicknesses of newspaper as an immediate weed barrier underneath the rocks.

Then, I created a dry stacked wall, two stones high. The garden bed is about 4 feet wide and 8 feet long.


I filled in the gaps between stones with chipped stone. There will be four more of these along the fence, and then they will be surrounded by a layer of rock chips/pea gravel, as per this garden plan (there will be FIVE gardens along the east fence, not three):

I plan on lasagna gardening these beds by layering a bunch more newspaper at the bottom, a bunch of manure/compost, and then wood chips at the top. Four more to build before I take the truck to find manure!