I am a little overdue in my weekly update but as many of you will know we did indeed get the house on site and safely onto the foundation. We hosted our first annual “as is” party on Saturday night so that local family and friends could come check it out. I put a reminder into my phone so that I will remember to plan another party for a year later. Like childbirth, maybe some of the scarier memories will be gone in a year!!
So to follow this chronologically would put us back to Sunday night and our hopes for good weather. Monday am we awoke to rain. This caused us to make a detour on our way to Davidson so that we could, once again, rescue our weeping tile from the dirt which surrounds it. This meant that we arrived in Davidson well after the moving crew > we found the house pulled up to the approach and the rain tumbling down. The kind of rain that makes wearing glasses a pain and discourages a moving crew. They awaited word from Sask Power as to the status of the move while Ron and I set to work on sistering the beams.
This sounds easier than it was. I would have to say that the best part was that because we were under the house we weren’t wet!! They were tricky to get in place even with the notches cut out. But adrenalin and determination can take many an activity farther and faster than imaginable. By 9ish Andy and his crew had headed for home as Sask Power said it was a no go which meant that the pressure was off Ron and I to get these joists in place. None the less we kept working away and actually had a fairly good system worked out. Some time after 10 Andy and the crew drove back into the yard > Sask Power said it was on again. So they helped us put the last few joists in place and everything was packed up and ready to go by 11:15. Under dark and dreary skies “Herbie’s” house pulled roots from its 89 year old homestead and started off on a new adventure (see photo 1).
The first corner (which incidentally headed us south) was fairly easy but the second road was narrow and capped off with a yield sign that didn’t allow the house enough room to turn the corner. The pilots sprang into action to clear the obstacle and off down the road the crew headed. In lead was the semi with the sliding beams. The house was sandwiched between two pilot vehicles; the lead one a three quarter ton and the rear one had a fifth wheel flatbed loaded with the cribbing, etc. On the road they are in constant communication with radios as to the status of the house, the upcoming road, traffic issues and last, but certainly not least, Sask Power truck status reports. Our Suburban brought up the rear for the entire trip > a first according to Andy. He’s never had another owner who followed along the whole way. It certainly was very educational, exciting, exhausting and entertaining as you will read as the tale unfolds.
The first few power lines were handled quickly by Sask Power (see photo 2) as we rumbled along. At almost every power stop we would find on lookers who usually remarked that they thought that looked like old Herbie’s house from Davidson. Almost all of them wanted to know if we still had the toilet and shower in the dining room! Another universal question was where was it headed to. We would say near Aberdeen by Hold On Industries; another land mark recognizable by the farming community of Saskatchewan.
Day one came to a quick closure as the rain, which had basically held off since eleven, started again. Andy pulled the house into a pasture which was a bit sketchy (borrowed that word from the younger generation in our house) to watch. We obtained permission from the land owners for the night and everyone retired hoping for better weather in the morning.
Day two dawned sunny and breezy. I set off from Saskatoon alone (Ron had meetings that he had to attend and he charged me with taking pictures) to meet up with the crew for the “last” leg of the journey. As an aside here; the route is dictated by Sask Power and isn’t really negotiable. Road conditions don’t factor into their equation of power service to customers and the work load of cutting or lifting lines. So back to the story of day two and it is quite the tale. The road to go under the high voltage major line was poorly maintained and we did a whole 8 k’s/hr down it but Andy pulled it through. Around the corner we went and the road condition appeared to improve and I breathed a sigh of relief. This was short lived as the road ahead was soft from Friday night’s rain/hail storm and the hill was a tough climb. The second slough was longer and the hill steeper > yep you know where we are headed! No where. When you get something that ways 60,000 tonnes stuck it isn’t a pretty picture or a quick out. The rescue is worth more than two pictures but that’s all you get for this entry. Photo 3 is Andy assessing the best way to get the dollies unstuck > which turned out to be by jacking the house up onto cribbing and putting the rollers in place so that it could slide up without putting weight on the dollies. Photo 4 is the gravel pay loader pushing from behind on the beam; in the front was a Massey Ferguson tractor hooked onto the semi. This is after the dollies have been dug out, the semi unhooked (after the front of the house was blocked up) and the crater there filled in with a significant amount of gravel. So almost four hours later we were on our way up the road again.
Finally hit some smooth sailing when we got to highway two northbound. At this point in time we have picked up another vehicle in the “train” > my cousin Helen and her husband. They even got some of the action on video footage. Helen also supplied a bucket of cookies which I gave out to the Sask Power guys as well as the moving crew. It was nice to have their moral support and the goodies!! By this point in time it is almost five so a night time spot is being researched while we go under the second high voltage line. On our jog off the main road to this power line we had some small mishaps when the train sign took out two windows on one side and a tree took out one on the other side. Near Colonsay we pulled into the Coop Cardlock which served double duty for Andy as he filled up the tanks for the trucks. After this long day Sask Power was finally a bit concerned about the quality of the roads so Andy and his crew took a detour to check out the next issue.
Day three and we are all thinking this has got to be it! Off to a quick start up the highway to Meachem were we sat for the next hour while Andy sent the lead semi out to check out the “soft” low spots in the road > not one but two!! Whenever we stopped for an extended period I would spend time pulling nails from the underside. After this stop I left my hammer and the pry bar on the back beam > a few hours later at Vonda when we were once again stopped I retrieved my hammer but my pry bar was somewhere on the road. As an aside a sawsall blade made the entire trip from Davidson to Aberdeen on the back beam and never moved an inch!
The low spots were traversed with some crossed fingers and nervous breaths as the dollies sunk in many spots with water on both sides of the road. It was a relief to get through that section and hit highway 5 were we made some time and actually traveled along at 70 km’s/hr. We then headed back to the gravel roads and ended up in Vonda. Once the factory got shut down and that power line lifted we headed under the third high voltage line. At this point in time the hills to the west are rising up and we can see the Hold On Industries buildings (these are about one mile from our land) so it was almost time to get excited. We rounded the corner at Aberdeen (after lifting the same triple phase power line twice as it ran across both corners of the highway) and headed down highway 41. The traffic backs up pretty quickly and you see how crazy some drivers are. It was a tough corner onto Bergheim Road but up that last stretch we went. Andy had expressed concerns about how soft our road was (he had been to scout out the site shortly after the ute got stuck) but after some of the other low spots it was not nearly as much of an issue.
By this point in time we have quite a few spectators; among them some new neighbors as well as Andy’s Dad and Mom (who were visiting in Saskatoon). We also had some friends and family on site (thanks to Doug Hillis, Helen and Lorne Johnson) to help us with the last bit of work we had to do before the house moved over onto the foundation. It was pretty cool to follow it that last kilometer as it headed down the road to its new location for this century (see photo 5) but it still felt too early to breath that sigh of relief. I was saving that for when it finally settled onto the new foundation. Good thing I wasn’t ready to sigh as I, and the whole crowd, ended up gasping as the house lurched over at its final resting spot. As the truck pulled alongside the foundation the dollies sunk, the semi wheels sunk and an unnatural tilt occurred. The photo doesn’t quite give you the same perspective one had at the time! The crew jumped pretty quick to get the cribbing in place and get the weight off the dollies. Then they called it a day after Andy did a quick site inspection. This resulted in our neighbors, Curtis and Kevin, doing some earth, gravel and rock removal so that the house could be moved the next morning.
But that is another days story and seems I lost half of what I had inputted and had to redo all the pictures as well as the half the story I am closing for tonight. The sliding over and setting down of the house are worthy of a complete entry so I will close this for now. Please feel free to submit your comments. Sorry if it seems rather long winded but it really was quite the adventure and I wanted to do it justice > hope you are all still awake!! Of course it might not be 12:35 am when you are reading it just because it is that time when I am typing it.
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