Forest Lakes

Saturday, June 12

After a bit of map study, I came across the James Peak Wilderness. There’s a trailhead at the eastern portal of the Moffat Tunnel. From that trailhead, in about five day-hikes, it should be possible to visit more than a dozen named lakes all above 10,500′. Each of these hikes will take you to two or three lakes.

A couple of years ago, I failed to reach Bluebird Lake in early July because of the amount of snow on the ground. So in mid-June, I should expect to find a fair amount of snow as low as 10,000′. The only one of these five day hikes that doesn’t top 11,000′ is the one to Forest Lakes. The lower, smaller lake sits at about 10,675′ and the larger, upper lake at 10,850′. ProTrails lists this hike as “moderate” while AllTrails says it’s “hard”.

I’ve never hiked in this area before, so I have no idea how crowded the trails are. None of these hikes are longer than ten miles, so they’re not very long. A few of them climb 2,000′ from the trailhead. ProTrails says “The Forest Lakes are part of a heavily used trail system and very popular among anglers. Arrive early to secure parking and avoid crowds.” From Google’s satellite image, the parking lot doesn’t look too big, so how early is early? I set a 7 am target. We were only a few minutes behind schedule and managed to put boots on the trail at 7:20.

The trail skirts the entrance of the tunnel and quickly meets South Boulder Creek, which it then parallels for a bit less than a mile. Half an hour after we began, we reached the Forest Lakes trail junction. The next section of trail, from this junction to a bridge over Arapaho Creek is wide, perhaps wide enough to drive a jeep on, and of an almost constant grade.

The bridge over Arapho Creek has seen better days. It’s a couple of split logs with a railing, but half the railing is gone. The creek carries the combined outflow of Forest Lakes and Arapaho Lakes. Right now it is running robustly, overflowing onto the trail. Stepping onto the bridge, I grabbed the post that formerly held the missing railing. I didn’t put any weight on it but used it only for balance. This is good, as it’s not exactly secure.

When planning this hike, as I said, I was expecting to be hiking over some snow. My guess as to how much snow we’d see was a bit off. This bridge is at about 9,800′ and this is where we started dealing with snow. There were isolated patches of snow almost as low as the trailhead, but those were small, isolated, and not on the trail. From now on it became more challenging to follow the trail, as it quickly became totally buried. The parts of the trail that weren’t covered with snow were rivers of snowmelt. Before long, we weren’t so much following a trail as previous hikers’ footprints.

In planning our little trek, I found conflicting information about the trails. Some maps indicate there are two trails to Forest Lakes while others only have one. About a quarter of a mile after the bridge I was expecting to find a junction with the trail to Arapaho Lakes. That trail continues along the creek to the confluence of the outlet stream from Forest Lakes. Here, maybe, there’s another junction; another route to Forest Lakes.

I never saw the Arapaho Lakes trail. For a while, I wasn’t sure which trail we were on. But after hiking a distance I figured to be much farther than we needed to go to reach that junction, I got the phone out to see what elevation we had reached. By now, we’d gone about half the distance between the missed junction and the lower Forest Lake.

We continued to lose and regain the trail until we could see the lake through the trees. Lower Forest Lake is, as the name implies, in the forest, having trees all around it. We arrived on its eastern shore, which is shaded and show bound. We spotted a rock outcropping sitting in the sun on the northern shore and made our way there. This entailed crossing a somewhat marshy area. Actually, that’s not a great description. All the ground around the lake was covered in flowing water. More than once I stepped where I shouldn’t have stepped and got some water in my boots. This early in the season, the only wildflowers I spotted are those yellow and white ones that grow in abundance in these marshy areas.

Lower Forest Lake

Just to be clear, my main issue with the snow involves navigation. Given the route-finding difficulties we faced reaching the lower lake, we decided not to bother trying to reach the upper lake (which would be somewhere roughly in the center of the above panorama). Had I been here before, and been familiar with where we were headed, I’d have continued.

We sat on our rock and basked in the bright, cloudless sunshine for an extended break. It was a bit early for lunch but I’d worked up an appetite and ate anyway. I don’t know what it is about eating on the shore of some alpine lake after a few hours of hiking, but even average food is delicious. My turkey avocado Swiss sandwich on sourdough bread was fantastic. The can of Tommyknocker Blood Orange IPA wasn’t bad, either.

I took the GoPro with me so I could capture a time-lapse video, but we didn’t see a single cloud all day. Sometimes the weather is just too perfect!

On our hike out, we more or less retraced our footsteps. During our break, I’d managed to pretty much get my feet dry, but I quickly made another misstep and gave myself another case of wetfoot. So it goes.

So far, we’d encountered only a handful of other hikers. I was starting to think that perhaps ProTrails had overstated the amount of traffic this trail gets. It may be that the snow was discouraging people from reaching the lake, but from the bridge over Arapaho Creek back to the trailhead we ran into substantially more traffic. Unlike RMNP, dogs are allowed on the trails here, as long as they’re on leashes. Well over half of the hikers we met had dogs with them.

Not long before we reached the trail junction at South Boulder Creek, we heard the blast of a locomotive horn. I don’t know if it was entering the tunnel or leaving it. I was a bit disappointed we missed seeing it. The tunnel is ventilated by giant fans. These fans run for twenty or thirty minutes after the train clears the tunnel. These fans sound like giant power saws and we could hear them from more than half a mile away. I couldn’t tell how they were powered – are they electric or diesel?

We were back to the trailhead a few minutes after 1 pm. In spite of the snow, and of not reaching the upper lake, I found the day quite satisfying. Of course, if I want to visit all the lakes in this area I’ll have to hike this trail again, but that’s quite alright. Lower Forest Lake isn’t the most scenic lake, and the hike is your average forest hike (that is, “you can’t see the views for the trees”), but there are plenty of worse ways to spend a day.

Although it’s possible I could hike all these trails in a summer, I don’t think I’ll make such a concerted effort. This trail had the lowest destination elevation of the group so I figure it’ll be another month before many of the other lakes served by this trailhead are easily reached.

2021 Hiking Prospects

Over the last decade or more, it has been my habit (or goal) to spend fifteen to eighteen days a year wandering through Rocky Mountain National Park. It appears, at this point at least, that I won’t make a great effort towards that goal in 2021.

First, in the time since I first started backpacking (as opposed to day hiking), my approach has been to visit the permit office in person when making reservations. My thinking is that I’ll get better results than by email. I go in with a list of specific camp sites and vague dates. “What dates do you have available for Upper Ouzel Creek,” for example. Given a short list of desired sites and a bit of flexibility on dates, I have been able to secure my desired permits.

This year, however, due to the knock-on effects of the COVID pandemic, the office is closed to in-person visits. And, to complicate matters, they had technical issues that caused several delays in getting the online process functioning. The bottom line is they stopped accepting requests before I even knew they started. I should have been paying closer attention.

But, in the end, I don’t think my failure to act promptly was as big of a problem as I first thought. When I was trying to figure out what they’re doing with the timed entry passes, I found their map of area closures:

Map captured on June 3

It looks to me like about a quarter of the Park is closed. The yellow shaded areas on the map are the closures. This area is not the same as what was burned last summer: I’m pretty sure the campsite we camped at last summer did not get burned, but because the lower sections of the trail were burned, anything above the burned area is closed.

So, on the west side of the park, the only trails available are those west of the Colorado River and the trails to Timber Lake and Mount Ida. On the east side, everything around Fern Lake is closed.

The timed entry passes this season are a bit different from last year. Last year, you needed a pass to go anywhere in the Park. I’m not sure that this applied to Wild Basin, as on my visits there last year I never saw any rangers at the entrance station. This year, the greatest restrictions are on the Bear Lake area. A pass is required starting at 5 am. The rest of the Park is generally open before 9 am, so no pass would be required for an early start on a hike to, say, Lawn Lake.

I picked up a July pass for the Bear Lake area. I’m thinking I’ll visit Andrews Glacier, which I haven’t done in at least fifteen years. After that, I’m not sure where I want to go.

So all this leads me to start looking for hiking opportunities outside RMNP. Luckily, there is no shortage of choices. It’s a great excuse to see the beauty of Colorado outside my normal stomping grounds.

Exterior Paint

Under the category “Spending Money Like We’re Rich” sub-category “Joys of Home Ownership”: having the house painted.

I called three painters, one never returned my call, the other two gave me proposals. I asked for three prices: painting the house and shed and all carpentry repairs; sanding and staining the deck; and redoing the epoxy paint on the garage floor. One repair I specifically called out was to the front door, where the closer for the steel door attaches to the side jamb. The first guy doesn’t do garage floors and wouldn’t do the door repair. I went with the first guy. He was several hundred dollars cheaper and I liked that he gave me a very detailed proposal. The second guy’s price for the garage floor was more than it’s worth to me, so even had I gone with him, I’d have passed.

To do the door repair, I needed to buy a new tool. I had the good fortune (?) to put my foot through a rotted plank on the rear deck, so that gave me an opportunity to practice with the tool where I could more afford a mistake.

Before, during, ready for the painters

On the deck, I replaced three planks and decided a few more were required. But I needed 12′ boards, which I can’t carry. The painter said he’d pick them up for me so I went and picked out the boards, paid for them, and left them at the store. He got them at the end of the day, but he somehow got the wrong lumber. He picked up the correct lumber the next morning. I told him I’d make the remaining repairs, but he offered to do it for me at no additional cost.

Rotted plank, repair ready for painters

On his walk-through before writing up the proposal, he pointed out the damage to the siding on the north side of the second story. This area was painted when my roof was replaced because of hail damage. Although they repaired some trim pieces, they made no repairs to the siding. I wondered if it was something that was missed, but it would have been missed by both the contractor and the insurance adjuster. No failure to repair, just entropy at work.

Wavy siding and water damage on the bottom couple courses

They ended up replacing quite a bit more of the siding than he originally thought. These days, each board is about thirty bucks. I didn’t count the boards, but there were several boxes.

After this photo, three more boards were removed from the garage wall. Window trim repairs, too.

I have a number of additional photos that simply illustrate how long overdue this project is. I won’t belabor the point.

It was a crew of four guys for six days, but it wasn’t always the same four guys. Sometimes there was one radio station blasting in the front yard and a different station in the back. The boss, Daniel, is a big man with a big voice, which he used often. And with the saws, sanders, and grinders, it was a noisy time.

I was somewhat annoyed that they borrowed a lot of my tools – blower, the saw I bought for the door repair, my drill, a small pry bar, an extension cord. And I had to go with him to rent the big sander for the deck, Daniel says, because he doesn’t have a credit card. Oh, and Genae busted one of the guys washing his car. She said he looked embarrassed.

After they left one afternoon, I saw that one of the garage doors was open a foot or so. When I closed it, it kept trying to close after it hit the floor so it reversed. Somehow, the adjustment got out of whack. I couldn’t figure out how to fix it, but Michael spotted the screws where you make the adjustment. I asked Daniel about it the next day. He had tried to open the door and thinks the weatherstrip was stuck to the paint. Must have caused the drive belt to slip a notch.

The careful observer will note that we went with a slightly different shade of green. I’m happy with it.

The only real mishap of the project was when we lost our internet. Until last year, we had DirecTV. Over the years they had to come out to either upgrade the dish or run new lines. I joked that the house was held together by all the coax cables. I wanted all the cables gone from the outside of the house. Genae and I followed the internet cable into the phone box where it came out of the back of the garage. I told Daniel they should take every cable off that wasn’t connected to the box. Well, they cut one too many wires and we were without internet for 24 hours. It was a calculated risk.

Overall, I think the guys did a good job.

Exxon Valdez no more

We took the Lotus out of service on February 1.

Ever since we did the engine swap last winter the car has been leaking like the Exxon Valdez. In the end, it was two issues. The first we found and fixed quite some time ago. It was just something we missed in the swap – a small part we should have replaced but didn’t. But that wasn’t the only issue.

So we took the clam off, cleaned the engine, and fired it up. With the clam off, the problem was obvious: we had a major leak in the timing chain cover gasket. To make this repair, you really replace three or four gaskets. And we may as well change the water pump at the same time, because it’ll never be easier.

But “easier” is relative. Easier than what?

The intransigent bolt

The first big issue was getting a bolt out. With stock motor mounts, you can take out two mounts and clock the motor to remove the bolt. With my hard solid mounts, you have to take out three and employ an engine hoist.

I called Stevenson Toyota and ordered the parts. I’d pick them up on the way to the club meeting. But the meeting got pushed to Sunday, so it ended up being out of my way. Mountain States Toyota is closer. At the parts counter, I tell the guy I’m here to get my order. He goes into the back. He’s gone for a long time. He finally returns, has a pow-wow with the other parts guy. They can’t find the timing cover gasket. They know it’s in the building, it came in from Kansas City, but they can’t find it. “Do you need that part?” Yes, I need it, it’s the object of the game. They order another one from Kansas City. It’ll be here by Wednesday.

The damaged gasket (photo credit: Michael)

There was also a discussion of the sealer I’d ordered. The guy says it’s really expensive, like $80 a tube. On the phone, he’d said $8 or $10. Now he tells me their techs get several applications in a tube, and the price he quoted was for an application. He suggests I use a different one, the one commonly used. “Here, I’ll just give it to you.” Cool.

He’s the guy I talked to when I originally ordered the parts. When they couldn’t find the gasket, he said, “You’re the Lotus, right?” And on my second visit, he called me “Lotus”. This time he gives me the gasket, no charge.

Once we had all the parts, Michael could work his magic.

And then the unfortunate happened. The bolts that secure the cover each has a torque spec, but there’s no sequence specified. When Michael was torquing a bolt, he heard a distinct “ping!”

The cover was cracked.


I went down to the garage and found him sitting on the floor, studying his phone. He told me what happened, and a quick search indicated we could get a replacement for $450.

I know how I’d feel if it was me that had done this. I’d have burned with shame. I can feel the heat just thinking about it.

He’s a good mechanic, and he’s proud of his work. So when I tell him it’s no big deal, it doesn’t make him feel any better.

I do a quick internet search and find a replacement on eBay for $150. I’m just about to buy it when I realize we already have one: it’s on the bad motor in the shed. Now all we need is another set of gaskets.

I call the guy at Stevenson to place the order. “Have you ever used our website?” I say “No.” He tells me I should, as it’ll save me a bunch of money. It didn’t occur to me that it’d be cheaper, but so it goes. Even with ten or eleven bucks postage, it saved me money. This gasket, by the way, came from Los Angeles. Makes me wonder how many of these gaskets are available.

(photo credit: Michael)

There is more than one size of bolt for this cover, and Michael says it’s possible he had gotten one wrong (but, it’d be two, right?). When he pulled the cover off of the old engine, he transferred the bolts to the cracked cover so there’d be no such error the second time.

(photo credit: Michael)

Early on in this endeavor, I figured we’d be done with this before the end of April, so I bought a track day for April 25. All this drama: parts going missing; an upsetting “ping”; the bolt that won’t come out short of (damn near) removing the engine. All this just added a bunch of stress and put the schedule in jeopardy. Even the schedule was a self-imposed stress: I could get a refund if I cancel at least a day in advance.

But we Michael got it done, on budget and on time.

On Friday we filled it with fluids, hooked up the battery, and fired it up. We ran it up to temperature and were happy to see no leaks anywhere. Saturday was a LoCo meeting, so that would make a nice shake-down cruise.

Saturday morning I washed the car. I still had the undertray and diffuser off. Both were well coated with oil and grunge. I washed the car first, with car wash soap. I used Dawn dishwashing liquid (“3X the grease cleaning!”) on the undertray and diffuser. When I was done, they were cleaner, but not quite clean.

Michael came outside to help me button up the underside of the car. “What time are you leaving for your meeting?” he asks. “I’d like to leave by 11:15.” “It’s 10:54 right now!” We got them put on, but not totally fastened down. We had trouble locating a few fasteners. This would be okay for a short drive, but we’d have to have it buttoned down properly for the track.

It was nice to drive it, finally, after three months.

The drive to and from the meeting was uneventful.

A few snaps from the meeting:

Elise S1

Assault and Battery

My original intention was to post this to the blog as soon as we’d arrived at the conclusion. However, the conclusion put me in a bit of a funk and I didn’t want to deal with it. That’s been several weeks, now, and I finally am ready to record it.

I had also intended to take my rough notes and work them into something presentable. Instead, I’ve only made a few spelling, punctuation, and word choice changes. I also added a few minor editorial notes (in italics) to clarify things in the narrative that I only learned later.

Monday, August 3

A bit before 3pm, we were in the left turn lane from westbound 92nd to southbound Harlan. It’s a double left turn. We’re in the right lane, first of four or five cars. A bus goes through the intersection southbound, making a right at the light (to stay on Harlan). Just before we get the green arrow, a white Toyota pickup with black trim pulls up in the left left turn lane.

We get the green arrow. He gets almost a car’s length ahead of me then comes across into my lane, because he doesn’t want to go straight, he wants to stay on Harlan. The bus is just making the right turn and going slow, but still going. The Toyota has to slow way down to not hit the bus. I hit the brakes and the horn at the same time. The bus is still moving, but slow. The Toyota comes to a complete stop and I tap him.

We pull over into the Conoco station. Not into it, but into that driveway. We both get out of our cars. He lets loose a torrent of abuse, I can’t get a word in edgewise. He calls me a “blind, old man.” We walk toward each other, meeting about half-way. We end up close together, not quite face-to-face. He tells me to get out of his face, or he’ll fuck me up.

I now have what I can best describe as if being in a dream: a few seconds of experience, not connected to anything: I am the ground, wondering “What am I doing on the ground?”

Another bit of dream-land; a few moments of time not connected to any other experience: I look down into my left palm, which is filling up with blood from my nose. It’s not dripping, it’s a stream. I move towards the curb and grass, and blood is still pouring out of my nose, drenching my shoes. I sit down with my back against a tree.

The next discontinuity is more subtle: I’m still sitting against the tree. I am subsequently told about ten minutes have passed. I have a huge wad of bloody kleenex in my hands, my nose is still bleeding. A cop gives me a pellet to stuff into my nostril and a spring clamp for my nose. My shirt only has a few splatters; my shorts are clean. My shoes belong on a murder victim.

Evidently, the EMTs have come and gone. I don’t remember them. Genae tells me they asked if I was on any blood thinners. Genae said she wanted to mention the low-dose aspirin. Which means I didn’t. I’m told that I was saying he never touched me; I was saying that I wasn’t punched.

I only later find out the proper sequence of events. Genae tells me that the cop who gave me the things for my nose was before the EMTs. So I’m missing some time between the river of blood and the cop, then a much bigger chunk. I’ve been “Swiss-cheesed”.

Somebody getting gas shot a video, which starts a split second before the punch lands and goes for about ten seconds. The guy texted it to me. It’s a distant shot, so not much detail. He hits me and I go down like a sack of potatoes. I land on my ass, and perhaps the back of my head hits the bumper of the car. It’s not a good angle. Then I get up, move towards the curb and fall to my hands, but not my knees. I’m not sure whether I’m staggering, or just picking up my sunglasses. I put my sunglasses on and get in the car, then immediately get back out. I’m amazed there’s no blood in the car. I must not have started bleeding until I got back out. I’m guessing I remember the bloody five or six seconds immediately after the end of the video.

Witness video

I don’t recall the EMTs, but there were still several cops there when I my own memory resumes. One asked if I want to press charges. I told him I hadn’t been punched since junior high school. Of course I’d press charges. The guy hadn’t even left the parking lot. He admitted punching me.

Based on the missing ten minutes, it’s pretty clear I got concussed. I have no tenderness on the back of my head, so I’m pretty sure I didn’t hit my head on the car. Presumably the EMTs checked me for dilated eyes. I have a very minor headache right now, but it could be just from a generally bad day.

Sitting on the pine needles, leaning against the tree, I was more dazed than hurt. I really had no pain at all, so I’m guessing a bit of shock. Genae offered me some water. I swirled it around my mouth and spit it out. There was a little blood; a second rinse of the mouth was clean. I have no cut in my mouth, but a small abrasion on the inside of my left cheek from my upper teeth.

After the police and EMTs were done, Genae drove us home. As we pulled into our cul-de-sac she told me “I think he followed us.” I told her there are a million white pickup trucks and she shouldn’t worry about it. When I got the police report, I couldn’t help but notice that the guy lives just a few houses away. I can throw a snowball from my backyard to his.

There was no swelling until more than an hour later. I should have been quicker getting ice on it, but never occurred to me. Genae put an icepack together for me and I used it until it was mostly melted. When I was about to fire up the grill for dinner I blew my nose. The bleeding started back up. Not too badly; only used a couple of kleenex. I write this, at 10:30, it’s only starting to show some discoloration. I’m expecting it to get much uglier. I can cover the swollen part of my cheek with my fist. That is, it’s obvious where his fist came into contact with my face.

My teeth and gums, upper left, are numb, as if I’d had Novocaine.

Approaching 1am, I haven’t slept yet. My mind won’t rest. I’ve made a few updates to this document.

I finally sleep at two, but wake up a few minutes after six.

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Tuesday, August 4

I certainly didn’t feel like walking this morning.

A quarter of my mouth is still numb, still as numb as was last night. I was able to get an appointment to see the dentist at 10am. Pulchalski has retired and we haven’t looked for a new dentist, so I called his old practice. Got an appointment with a guy I’d never met before, a young guy.

Of course, both the assistant and the doctor asked what happened, so I told the story briefly. They took three x-rays, two of which they had to do twice. X-rays look good. Next was a visual inspection, then prodding me with a sharp tool: I could feel some pressure but no pain around three teeth, a bit more sensation on the others. No problems opening wide for him, which he noted. Had I taken the blow on the jawbone, it could have been serious. Likewise, had it been around my eye.

I had him write up a little note. I don’t know if I’ll need it, or something like it, but I want to get what documentation I can. The prognosis is good: the nerve is being affected by the swelling. Once the swelling goes down, in all likelihood, there is no permanent damage. The treatment plan is to take 1 or 2 Ibuprofen every four hours and do three twenty minute sessions with an ice pack.

I sat watching Danger Man with the ice pack. For one episode, I had it where I had it yesterday afternoon. It was mostly affecting the cheek, I don’t think it was doing much for the gums. For the next episode, I managed to contort my face to get the ice in a more effective place. I think the feeling is coming back a bit, starting at the back. The Dentist said I may experience a burning sensation or it may feel prickly, which isn’t unusual. So far, none of that.

He wants me back next week for a follow up.

Wednesday, August 5

I slept better last night, fell asleep about 10:30, but woke up before six.

I called the Westminster Police Department today wanting to talk to somebody about my case. I didn’t get to talk to any of the officers involved as none of them starts work until two. The first person I get to talk to just directs phone calls. I gave her my report number and she said, “Oh yes, I remember that one. How are you?”

I understand that a Detective Hard will be dealing with the case, or perhaps Officer Burgess, or perhaps both.

I wanted to make sure that they knew what happened leading up to the assault. I was told that they have it all. As I don’t recall talking to any police officers, I don’t know if they got the story from me. So I asked if they knew that “the other party” intentionally caused the collision. She said that, yes, they knew.

I left a message for Detective Hard and hope to hear back from her.

I also called Allstate. Paul wasn’t in the office, so I left a message and hope to hear back from him.

Later… Paul returned my call. We had a long conversation. He recommends, even if I don’t make the repair, that I open a claim and get an estimate. Due to the unique situation (he’s never dealt with road rage that turned into an assault), he’s making a couple of calls to experts/consultants on his end to verify the best course of action. He recommended that I start a claim.

Later… Detective Hard called. She tells me that the miscreant was cited for battery (a misdemeanor) and for having no proof of insurance. He was not cited for the traffic incident. Detective Hard was the officer who was parked nearby. She said she’d have a victim advocate reach out to me. She also told me that if I find out I have any broken bones I should contact her, as that will change the charges.

Reading that last sentence now, months later, causes me much discomfort. She told me what to do, I made a note of it, and I promptly… forgot. Had I remember this, subsequent events may have turned out much different.

Shortly thereafter… A woman called from the victim advocate’s office. She’s not the one I’ll be dealing with; someone will call me tomorrow and that person will be my contact through the whole process. The miscreant’s court date is 8/27. I don’t need to attend court, but I think I will. Which means I’ll miss out on my timed entry pass for RMNP on that date. Oh well.

In any event, I should be eligible for some restitution. Most likely, this will only cover the dental visits. I need to explain the precipitating event to the judge in the hopes that we can get the miscreant to tell his insurance that he was at fault. This way I can get the car fixed. I can’t justify paying $600 to fix this small cosmetic issue, but I know that every time I see it, I’ll be reminded of the battery.

I called Allstate and started a claim. I download an app and use that. I’ll take photos and they give me an estimate from that.

You can’t really see the extent of the swelling

About this time, I ran into a couple of my neighbors. Naturally, they asked about my injuries. I went through the story. One said, “The guy in the white pickup? He’s got problems!” We live across the street from an elementary school. One day, somebody decided to turn around using Supitar’s driveway. He was outside at the time and threatened the driver with violence. For turning around using his driveway. Clearly, I live a couple of houses away from a sociopath.

Friday, August 14

I had a 10:30 appointment to get a 3-D image of my mouth. North Washington Dental doesn’t have the equipment, so they sent me to Standley Lake Dental Group. I wanted to be there fifteen minutes early to fill out all the paperwork. There was nobody in the lobby when I arrived. Fill out the COVID screening form, get your temperature taken (“I’ve been in the sun: I drove a convertable”), take a seat. I grabbed the one farthest from both the reception desk and the entrance. Another patient arrives and is called back before I get called.

The imaging machine takes a 360 degree view. The last one of these I saw, you sat down for the scan. This one I stood up. Bite on the blue piece. The operator adjusts the fit then takes a preview shot. The full scan takes about thirty seconds.

I have a broken bone in my face. We discuss the nerve and swelling and sensation. He does the cold test next. He’s surprised how many teeth are numb.

Broken bone circled in red

He recommends I see an oral surgeon. He can recommend one, or I can have Harger from North Washington make a recommendation. Harger doesn’t work Fridays, so I get the referral from this guy. I now have a 1:10 appointment in south Lakewood. It’s 11:45. I’m billed $200 and given a DVD with the CBCT scan, and a referral slip. I ask them if my dentist will be able to view the disk. “Of course!”

I made a quick trip home. I didn’t have time for lunch so I snacked on a few grapes.

At the oral surgeon’s, the door is locked. A sign says to call for a screening. They ask the usual questions, then someone comes out and takes your temperature (“Convertible!”). You sign the form with the answers from the phone interview and go in. They take me directly to an exam room. The gal takes the DVD and leaves the room. Comes back a few minutes later. “They didn’t include the viewer on the DVD, so we can’t read it. We’ll do the scan again but won’t charge you for it.”

They take me to their scanning room. They have two machines there: one like the one I used this morning, and one like I used years ago. (“Used” doesn’t seem like the right word. “Used on me”?) They sat me down on the older one and did the scan.

Yup, I have a broken bone in my face. It’s a very delicate bone. She said any attempt to put a plate in would just make the numbness worse. It’ll heal on its own. She described the bone the way you would describe a crash structure on a car without using that term. I have a bunch of fluid in my sinus. It’s blood, and it’s not infected. I’m not to blow my nose, as that could move the broken bone and might cause an infection. I should refrain from nose blowing for three weeks.

As to the numbness, the nerve looks good. That is, it’s intact. There’s a small chance that the numbness won’t get any better, but in all likelihood I’ll be okay. It’ll take months to get my sensation back. I tried to get her to give me some idea of what a “small chance” is. One out of twenty? She refused to answer.

“Is the little green convertible yours? I could get into a lot of trouble in that!”

They escort me out the “back door”. It’s not a back door; it comes out on the same side as the door where I entered, just down a bit.

I spent much of the rest of the afternoon doing paperwork. I filled out the Crime Victim Compensation Application and the Victim Impact Statement. Each requires that I attach copies of my bills.

The bruising is almost gone.

I picked an attorney at Findlaw and asked for a consultation.

In the end, I reached out to three or four attorneys. None ever responded. Most people are surprised that no one was interested. They feel from the TV ads that lawyers will be happy to take such a case. Evidently, they feel there’s no money to be made from mine, and it’s not even worth the bother to spend a minute talking to me.

One good thing about having to wear a mask at this time due to COVID is that my bruises are covered by the mask. I don’t wear my mask when I’m hiking, and on one of those days, a little kid looked at me while I was at the trailhead. He seemed to be fairly repulsed by my face.

Insurance Status

I opened a claim with Allstate and I’ve already been paid $68 and change. Their estimate for the damages is $668, so after the deductible that leaves me $68 bucks.

Novak managed to figure out that the other guy has USAA Insurance. (“There’s your military training.”) He tells me I should call them and open a claim. Gave me the phone number and the first couple of prompts I’ll hear when I call. So I called and opened a claim. I passed that claim number back to Allstate.

I have no idea how this will all work out.

Talking to USAA, I mentioned that I’d also been assaulted by their member. The gal mentioned she’d handled a claim where their member was shot. I told her I was happy their member didn’t shoot me.

First Court Date, August 27

The documents I received from Westminster include Supitar’s court summons. His appearance was scheduled for 8:30am on Thursday, August 27.

I had a timed entry pass for the Park on that day. I’d really rather be hiking than dealing with this. For a long time, I considered just going hiking. The night before, I packed my lunch, put my boots in the car, and put the top on the car for an early exit. I was planning on visiting Keplinger Lake.

But I couldn’t sleep. The guy concussed me, broke a bone in my face, and I might have permanent nerve damage. I need to state my case. I tossed and turned until some time after 1am.

So I didn’t go hiking. I called the court clerk to find out if court would be held in-person or remotely. I was told that the time of his case was changed to 10:30 and that the hearing would be by phone. They would call me when it started, but it may not start promptly.

It did start fairly promptly. I was called by a clerk and told to put my phone on mute. I would speak only if the judge requested. In addition to the judge and my silent self, Supitar and his attorney were on the phone. When the judge asked if they were on the same call or on different phones, the attorney said, “He’s standing here next to me.” The attorney’s name was Mayberry and I gather he’s a public defender. This turns out to be incorrect. Supitar makes too much money to be granted a public defender.

The call went very quickly. The attorney asked for time for discovery and a new court date. After some back-and-forth regarding dates, it was agreed that he would be in court (in person, if all goes to plan) for a hearing on September 29 at 10:30am.

I never said a word.

I’m tired and I’m feeling somewhat depressed. It has been nearly a month and I can’t seem to go more than a short while without thinking about what happened that day. I guess it doesn’t help that the numbness in my mouth is a constant reminder. (I want to say that I’m regaining sensation, but I can’t be sure. I’m certainly becoming accustomed to the numbness and for the most part now the only time it bothers me is when I’m brushing my teeth.)

October 1 Update (2nd hearing)

Supitar’s second court date was two days ago, September 29th. That morning, I called the court clerk’s office to verify that the time and date hadn’t changed. Bob offered to go with me, but when I called the court, they told me that only people with business could attend. So I was on my own.

I went to the courthouse. Supitar was already there, sitting in his truck, waiting, I guess, for his attorney. I went in. At the security station, I told them I was there for his hearing and that I am the victim. They asked who I was working with. I’m not working with anybody, nobody has told me how any of this works or what my role is. They directed me to take a seat in the lobby and they’d find somebody to help me.

A few minutes later, Supitar came in with his attorney. The security station was mostly out of my sight, but I saw him enter the door and heard him give his name to security. One of the security officers came to me and escorted me to a locked room so that we wouldn’t be in the same room. He again said someone would be with me soon.

The room I was in had two doors, the one I came in through and another that led to a hearing room. After a few minutes, I heard voices in the hearing room. Supitar and his attorney were in there. The door has a small window, but I didn’t put my face into it, and I couldn’t hear what was being said.

Eventually, a woman came into the room. The hearing room was now empty. Whatever had happened in there was all over now.

The woman introduced herself as Lana, victim advocate. She asked me if I’d received any communication from the victim advocate. I told her I had, that I’d sent in my medical bills and victim impact statement. I told her I didn’t remember the name of who I was dealing with. She left and returned a few minutes later.

[I got a letter a week or so ago saying that I needed further documentation on my medical bills because they weren’t the same day as the crime. I called both dentists’ offices asking for them to send me a note indicating that the services were, indeed, related to the crime. Neither sent me anything. I called Standley Shores Dental and asked again. Got a bit of a runaround. Eventually, it was decided that I’d run over to their office and pick up a copy of the clinical notes. The notes, do, indeed, include my statement that the numbness was a result of being punched.]

Lana and I talked for quite a while. My main point was that because there’s no statement from me on the police report (and I lost 10 minutes of memory), I’m pretty sure I never made any statement to the police. And the prosecutor hasn’t reached out to me. So nobody has heard my story. And I think it’s important to tell my story. So I told it to her. She made a bunch of notes.

She also told me that he has a new court date: November 3 at 9:00 am. The defense has made an offer: 6 month deferred judgment with anger management. She asked if that was okay with me. We then discussed my medical bills and the situation with insurance. (I told her that because he’s not talking to either insurance company, I’d likely have to take him to small claims court.) I asked her who pays restitution – the perpetrator, or some fund. I said that it would be more just for him to pay my medical bills than if it comes from somewhere else. In the end, I said I was okay with 6 months deferred judgment as long as I get my medical bills paid and he tells his insurance company that he was at fault for the collision. In retrospect, I wasn’t really prepared to answer this question. I should have said I was not okay with that, but now I’m pretty sure it didn’t matter what I said.

We discussed his proximity to me. She recommended I get a security camera and motion activated lights.

In an email, she requested copies of my medical bills and the victim impact statement. I sent these, along with the photo I took in the dentist’s office of the imaging showing my broken bone. She said, “I want to see if the prosecutor is willing to give a harsher offer because he is not aware of the physical damages that happened to you.”

At times, I think I’m starting to get over this. I spent a Thursday evening at HPR and didn’t think about it once for four hours. On my backpacking trip last weekend, I rarely thought about it, which is a big contrast to my previous hike up Hunters Creek where I basically obsessed over it all day.

On the other hand, I’m still quite irritable. I snapped at Genae the other night.

The numbness in my mouth is nearly gone. Perhaps in a couple more weeks it will be a memory.

With each court date, I hope there will be some sort of resolution, that I’ll get some feeling of completion or see an ending. Each time, there’s another court date, another month to wait.

Meanwhile, on the insurance front, Allstate is still attempting to enter into the subrogation process with USAA.

October 21

Update from Allstate:


As you may recall, when we negotiated with the other insurance company involved in this claim to reimburse your deductible, those negotiations were unsuccessful. As a result, we agreed with the other insurer to submit the claim to an intercompany arbitration panel.

We have received the arbitration panel’s decision and, unfortunately, it was not in our favor. Because the decision is final and binding between Allstate Insurance Company and the other insurance company, we will no longer continue our collection efforts.

While this ruling brings our recovery efforts to an end, you may continue to seek reimbursement of your deductible on your own. If you choose to do this, we would be happy to provide you with a copy of the claim documents. To obtain a copy of these documents or ask any questions about your claim, please feel free to call us at the number listed above.

We are sorry we were unable to recover your deductible. Thank you for your cooperation and assistance during this process.

You are a valued customer, and we sincerely appreciate your business.

They had a copy of the police report, which shows that the other driver began in the wrong lane (even including a diagram), but the arbitration findings specifically state that he chose the “correct lane”. The lesson here is that the insurance company won’t admit their driver is at fault unless there’s a police report that states such. Even when it’s clear that other drivers can more or less do whatever they want and not be found at fault unless the police say so.

November 2

Finally, a phone call from the prosecutor.

See call recording.

Big takeaways: he should have been charged with reckless driving and a felony.

Potential problem: he was offered a plea. It was not accepted, but they may be under the impression that it is still available. He called it a “gift” offer. That is, very lenient.

He also said that the treatment plan (anger management) was robust but that people tend not to change.

November 3 (3rd hearing)

Court date.

This time we were all in the courtroom.

Defendant’s attorney isn’t a public defender.

They met with the prosecutor before the hearing. The prosecutor attended remotely (from within building). Defendant’s attorney told the judge that they had, in fact, accepted the offer. He said they had their response both in writing and in an email but that the acceptance was never recorded. He said that both sides will refer to case law to determine next course of action. Next hearing is 11/24 @ 9:00am.

His plea deal is essentially for the crime of giving me a bloody nose, not for giving me a concussion and a broken bone.

Between this and the election, I had a sleepless night. Didn’t fall asleep until after 3, woke up shortly after 6.

November 4

I spent some time composing a statement to give to the judge. Chris recommends emphasizing the vicious nature of the attack and my pain and suffering. Bob recommends keeping the language and my tone of voice neutral.

It’s four pages long in 16pt type, big enough for me to easily read.

I’ll try to polish it up a few times over the coming weeks. This will be my statement if the current plea ends up getting accepted. I’ll make a much shorter one if the result is different.

How long will this go on? I need some sort of completion. Every time I deal with the court or the insurance company I end up with a few sleepless nights.

November 24

Phone call from prosecutor. He thought he was talking to the defense. It took me a few minutes to get him to understand he was talking to the victim.

The initial offer was a deferred judgment, which means if he stays out of trouble for some period, the charges would get dropped.

The updated offer was probation.

We discussed the possibility of getting him to admit to his insurance company that he was at fault. He recommended we try to get restitution some other way, ie as part of the deal. I told him that I’ll certainly take Supitar to small claims if I don’t get made whole as part of this process.

He’s very confident that the initial offer has been successfully voided.

Today’s hearing only produced the next hearing date: 12/15 at 9am.

December 15 (4th hearing)

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Today’s hearing was scheduled for 9am. This hearing was remote, via telephone. I dialed in a minute or two early, but disconnected when what I was listening to was clearly not related to me. I reached out to the victim’s advocate to make sure the date or time didn’t change. She told me that the court was just running late and that I should get back on the line and wait patiently.

I sat through hearings for three or four cases: a homeless guy plead guilty for public indecency (urinating in public), another plead guilty for assault (two crimes, actually, part of a love triangle), one for a crime I didn’t catch who was already in custody and has served 30 days. He got sentenced to 90 days, including time served.

Finally mine came up. At 10:22. It was over at 10:33. Net result: a new hearing schedule for February 23 at 1:30pm.

Defense still wants the original offer. Defense will prepare some document arguing to that effect, presumably citing case law supporting it. They get 30 days to prepare it. Prosecutor gets 30 days to respond. He thinks the judge may have to decide on this. This is all about whether the original offer can be withdrawn or not, it has nothing to do with anything else.

This is getting tiresome.

“Justice delayed is justice denied.” – William E. Gladstone

February 23 (5th hearing)

The day before, Lana from Victim’s Advocate sent me an email:

“I am seeing that we originally had Mr. Supitar scheduled for tomorrow, however it looks like he appeared last week and resolved this case. Had the prosecutor reached out at all? In the notes I can see he plead guilty and was given a deferred judgment, I can’t see what the conditions of that were.”

The next day she was able to forward the sentencing summary to me. It’s dismal. He basically got off scot-free.

Supitar sentencing summary

He didn’t even have to pay for my medical bills.

Clearly, justice cannot be served if the victim is never heard.

I sent copies of my dental bills to Victim’s Advocate. She said she’d help me get restitution; I told her I’d already received it. She wanted copies anyway, to give to the prosecutor. “Restitution is reserved for 91 days.” So perhaps he’ll have to pay for my dental bills in the end.

This whole thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth. We had five court dates, and I did my best to show up at every one. In the end, the fifth got moved and I wasn’t notified. It seems that there’s no requirement for the victim to be notified of court date changes unless it’s a domestic violence case. I never got to say a word in court, not as a witness, and not to the judge. I’m flabbergasted that the victim is not important enough to be heard in court.

Sometime between the fourth and fifth hearings, Michael had an encounter with Supitar. Michael stopped at Safeway after work. As he was leaving, making the left turn onto Vance Drive, he had to wait for traffic. When he pulled onto Vance, he was behind Supitar in his pickup. Anybody who lives in the dozen or so houses around me would naturally take the same route. So, naturally, Michael was making the same turns as Supitar was. Before turning onto 85th Ave, Supitar pulled over, rolled his window down, and, Michael says, seemed to want to start an altercation.

When Supitar goes north on Otis Dr or east on 85th Ave, he can see our house and all the cars parked in front of it. So there’s no doubt in my mind that Supitar has seen Michael’s car before. Did he want to start an altercation because he knew Michael was my son (or at least, knew he lived here)? Or is he so paranoid that he would challenge anybody who’s driving in the same direction as he is? I think either answer indicates the guy has serious problems.

I have revenge fantasies. If you were to give me the opportunity to do to Supitar what he did to me, and the only consequence would be a hundred dollar fine, I’d happily do it.

There ain’t no justice.

Emerald Lake

Saturday, January 23

Back in my misspent youth, I organized a hike to Emerald Lake every year around the Memorial Day weekend. I didn’t keep track of when I started this, or how long it went on, but at one point I considered making a few t-shirts that said, “Umpteenth Annual Emerald Lake Hike”. This was my traditional first hike of the season. It was early enough that we were always hiking across snow, and both Dream and Emerald were still frozen, although not frozen enough to hike across.

Although I’m not generally a big fan of crowds when I hike, I still make it to Emerald Lake at least once a year. This time, I dragged Scott along. This was his first hike to Emerald.

As is usual, the weather along the Divide was much different than the surrounding area. It wasn’t exactly clear in Estes, but it wasn’t bad. The roads were dry until about a mile from the parking lot at Bear Lake, where we entered a snowstorm and the road became snowpacked. The Glacier Gorge lot was full, and I was a bit concerned that we’d find a full lot at the end of the road. I needn’t have worried – it was only about 2/3 full.

I was considering two different destinations: Emerald Lake and Two Rivers Lake. For a time, the trail to Odessa Lake was closed at the Flattop Mtn trail junction due to the fire last autumn. It’s open now, but the volunteers told me it has been getting very little traffic. Little enough, that is, that we’d need snowshoes rather than microspikes. I was feeling a bit on the lazy side, and there’s always enough traffic to Emerald that snowshoes aren’t needed.

To Scott, I described the hike as a “conga-line” hike. Not everybody who parked here at Bear Lake was going to Emerald, but most of them were. I guessed we might see fifty people when we got there.

At Nymph Lake, I generally try to follow the winter route rather than the summer route. I found some footprints and we followed them for a few yards, but this was not the “beaten path” and after we postholed a few times we retreated back to Nymph and opted for the summer route.

The ice at Dream Lake was covered by a few inches of freshly fallen snow. Typically, the wind keeps the ice clear, but it was quite calm today.

As has been usual lately, I’m often amused by the navigation questions I get from other hikers. I think the map at the trailhead is pretty clear. Either quite a few people can’t read maps, or choose not to. Everybody is just following somebody else up the trail, not terribly concerned with where they’re going. “How much farther to Gem Lake?” and “Is this Lake Haiyaha?” were my favorites from today. Also, standing on the ice at Emerald Lake, “Is there another lake above this one?”

A common problem with a January hike to Emerald Lake is, where to sit to take a break? Generally, if a rock here doesn’t have snow on it, it’s because of the harsh winds. It was calm and snowing, so no rocks were clear. We headed towards the western shore in search of something better than closer to the trail and came upon two young women taking pictures of each other. They had stripped down to their sports bras. Instagram culture.

We never did find a nice place to relax, so we ate our snacks standing up. Naturally, this limits the length of our break.

After our break, while we were still crossing the ice, I counted thirty-two people. Not quite the fifty I predicted, but it very well could be that eighteen people had come and gone while we were there.

On the way down, the winter route from Dream back to Nymph had gotten more traffic, so we went that way. We stopped a couple of times and I attempted to describe the nearby topography to Scott, but I didn’t do a very good job: visibility was better than when we started, but everything beyond the two large glacial knobs was obscured by snow. At one of these pauses, I spotted what looked like a brown disk at my feet. It was the bottom of a water bottle somebody had dropped. I meant to leave it at the trailhead but forgot about it. It’s a nice metal REI bottle.

Some hours later, Scott sent me a couple of Strava screen shots. It says we went 4.50 miles, which I think overstates it by a mile. It also says we averaged 1.8 mph. I really don’t think we were going that fast: I kept stopping to chat. I recall mentioning that I’m sometimes hiking with people who never stop talking, and today it was me who never stopped talking. Pot, meet kettle.

I don’t think I scared Scott off yet. He says he’s interested in going to Haiyaha this winter and wants to go on a longer summer hike, or maybe even a backpacking trip.

New Computer

A while back, my computer started giving me network errors when trying to access my local drive. This is not a good sign. Clearly, it was on the brink of disaster. So I bought a new computer. The old one lasted eight or nine years, and I hope its replacement will last at least as long. I truly hate upgrading computers. So many things go wrong; so many aggravations. So much swearing.

Last time, I spent the fifty bucks (or whatever amount it was) to buy software to make the migration easier. I think it worked pretty well, and I considered doing the same thing this time. I didn’t keep any notes on that prior process, but I have some vague memory of it doing some things I didn’t like. Not enough of a feeling to dissuade me, but enough that I spent some time looking at the actual scope of the migration problem.

The first thing I did was make an inventory of all the software I have installed on the old machine. First, I went through the Windows settings application for removing programs. I recognized pretty quickly that this was not a complete list, being that it lacked at least two programs I use fairly often. For several years, I’ve been using a program called Revo Uninstaller. I’ve found that it does a better job of uninstalling things than the native Windows program. Revo showed me a couple of things that the native app missed.

Given a good list of software, I faced the next issue. The old computer’s CD/DVD drive is broken, and the new computer doesn’t have an optical drive. Which will be a problem if I need to install software from a disk. (I later discovered later that the lack of any ability to read a disk isn’t the real problem when installing old software.)

Next, I checked my hard drives to see which programs I had saved the install files for. It has been my habit to keep these. Then, I went online to discover which programs I could download from the developers.

Given this information, I decided to do the migration manually. May God have mercy on my soul.

In the end, there were only three programs that gave me problems.

Least important of the three is a program I’ve been using to track my savings bonds. It is no longer available, the developers having moved the functionality to the web. I won’t go that route. I didn’t regularly track my bonds, but I think they’re all matured by now anyway, and I should cash them in and be done with it.

The next program in question is the one I’ve been using to make my videos. I can’t download it (short of buying the latest version), but I had the install files. However, when I ran the install program, it notified me that one of the files was corrupt. I recopied the file from the old computer and tried again, but no joy. This led me to searching the web for a replacement. I decided on Shotcut, a free open-source video editor. I’ve successfully made my first video with it, and I think I’ll be a happy user. But, even for the simple videos I make, I face a bit of a steep learning curve.


Finally, we get to Quicken. I’ve been using Quicken since 1994. I’ve upgraded several times over the years and am currently using Quicken 2015. Their business model has changed somewhat. They’ve switched to a subscription model. I’m not a big fan. For decades, I’ve been able to buy it, install it, and use it. I’d rather own than rent. Somehow, I don’t have the original install files. So I was a bad boy and found a copy of Quicken 2015 on a Russian BitTorrent site and downloaded it. I’m sure Intuit would claim I just stole something, even though I bought it way-back-when. So it goes.

I followed the instructions of the pirate version I downloaded and was off and running. Or, not so much “running” as “limping”. It got me to the point where I could register my copy with Intuit. After that, I got a message that, because Quicken 2015 is no longer supported, it wouldn’t update from the original release to the latest version (that I have on the old computer). And, of course, it wouldn’t let me run the version that I’d just installed.

Now that it was installed, I was hoping that it had finished doing whatever magic needed to be done with the registry. I copied the Quicken program folder from the old machine to the new and tried again. It fired up with a brand new (empty) database, which seemed like progress. After two or three tries to get it to open my database (with 26 years of data), I finally had success. This version of the program will “crash” the first time I fire it up each day, but it seems to be working just fine. It has been crashing on startup for quite a while now. I’m pretty sure it’s just trying to check for updates, and as it’s unsupported it just crashes. It only looks for updates once a day, so the second time I launch it, it works. I can find no setting that would allow me to stop it looking for updates.

One piece of software that I had no availability concerns was iTunes. I consider iTunes to be possibly the worst software I’ve ever had the misfortune to use. But I have an ancient iPod that serves me well, so I’m more or less chained to iTunes. This one should have given me no migration problems, as Apple kindly provides step-by-step instructions on the web. I followed these instructions precisely. It only took three tries to achieve success. I guess they just wanted to fuck with me: “You were expecting to see your music library here? Ha! Try again!”

One of the side-effects of downloading and installing the programs I use is that I get updated to the latest versions. Not everything updates itself constantly. I’m okay with this. Perhaps I should be paying better attention to those that don’t update themselves regularly. So far, I’ve only come across one update that has caused me any issues, which I resolved after a quick internet search.

I still have a few things to download and install, but I’m going to call this migration “done”.

I’m sure the family is happy that this process was fairly trouble-free. They expected to hear much more foul language.

The last thing I’ll whine about is this: Genae uses this computer, too. When I went to add her as a user, I learned that I can’t add users that Microsoft doesn’t approve of. That is, Microsoft won’t let me add a user to this computer, my computer, in my house, without their permission. I added her as a “family member”. There are two options for this: Organizer or Member. I will be the administrator of this computer, so I made her a “member”. She had to set up an account with Microsoft and had to provide her birthdate. Now, when I go into the users control panel, I see my wife listed as “child”. Given that Microsoft asked her age, they know she’s not a child. I really don’t like that I’m not in charge of who can use my computer. The best answer, it seems, is to remove her from my “family” and set her up as an “other user”.

With the new computer comes a new problem. I no longer have the excuse that my computer lacks the specs required to run various games, like Cities: Skylines or the latest racing sim. I will either have to devise a new excuse or succumb to one or more of these high-tech time wasters.

Garage Cabinets 4

Construction is done, so we’ll call this the last episode. No need to prolong an already tedious account with details of putting all my junk away.

In this episode, we address the workbench and some shelves for the “tool corner”.

For the workbench, I was pretty much constrained to the same size I had in the old cabinets. The utility of that “bench” was compromised somewhat by the drawers getting in the way. Not that I really used the workbench to do any work. As previously stated, it’s pretty much been used as a table more than a workbench.

Being that it would get light duty, I considered making it out of a double-layer OSB with a 2×4 frame. The more I thought about it, the less I liked that plan. I ended up using six 2×6 planks screwed and glued to 2×4’s at each end, then a single sheet of OSB for the work surface. This bench would be attached to a cleat on the wall and to the two neighboring cabinets.

Assembled and painted bench top

I tried to be very careful with the width of it. I didn’t want it loose; I wanted a pretty snug fit between the cabinets. At one point, I was beginning to think I’d made it too snug. I managed to wrestle the back of it onto the cleat and get it more or less level and propped up. I needed to shift it about an inch toward the wall, and no amount of pushing on it was generating any progress. I tried a hammer on a block, but no joy. Finally, I tried the sledgehammer. A few relatively light taps later and all was good.

After securing the bench top, I went about mounting my vice. I haven’t had a vice in my garage in my adult lifetime. When I was a kid, I made regular use of a vice. I can’t believe I’ve gone so long without one. I wanted to be sure to mount it so that the back jaw of the vice was proud of the table’s edge, so that I could deal with material that hung down below the table top. I’d have liked to have been able to mount it far enough to the side so that I had that same luxury when I rotate the vice 90 degrees, but it wasn’t possible with this vice.

I have a vice!

The last bit of work was making a couple of shelves for tools. I searched the web for ideas and found a few photos of things I might be able to do. I wanted someplace for the chargers and batteries and I needed a way to accommodate drills/drivers and saws.

Wall mounted chargers and mocked-up shelves.

Where I’ve mounted the chargers, their cords make it to the nearest outlet, so I don’t need to use an extension cord. I may find a better place later. It should be easy enough to move, just four screws into the studs. I didn’t want to paint it the same gray as the cabinets. It’ll probably be white.

I’m happy I did a mock-up of the shelves first. I cut the shelves themselves to the proper dimensions. When I was figuring out how long to cut the cleats, I found myself looking for my pencil and a scrap of paper to do some calculations. Duh! I don’t need pencil and paper! I have chalkboards!

With the shelves sized and cut, using some scraps I propped them at heights I thought would be good. After a couple of slight changes, I found what I liked.

Finished tool shelves

The garage floor is still covered with the stuff that needs to either go into the cabinets, go to the recycler, to the landfill, or to be given away. I bought a bunch of plastic bins of three sizes, and they’ll do most of the work. I still need a few more, including something like a parts bin for all the fasteners and other little bits. But I like how the bins are fitting into the cabinets.

In the left cabinet, where the shelves are farther apart, I can stack a large, shallow container on top of a large, deep container. Or, two small deep ones on a large, shallow one. On the right side, everything fits, but with less stacking.

I’m sure that when I get whatever additional containers I require, the finished product will look just as neat and tidy as it is in these photos. And pigs will fly.

Before I started, I guessed I might be able to pull this off with 32 hours of labor, not including demolition. I was off by a bit. Demolition was 4.5 hours and the rest was 69, for a total of 73.5. I didn’t have a budget for materials. I just figured I could do it for less than I paid for the originals, even if I had to purchase some tools. At that point, I hadn’t even considered getting any storage containers. My total cost was just over $1100, but if you take out the tools and containers, we’re under $800. (All costs listed include tax.)

The unexpected value in this whole project was the sheet of insulation. I’d never have been able to make all those big OSB rips without it. When I was working on the tool shelves, at one point I had some of the shelf material hanging off the edge of the insulation, which caused the sawblade to bind. I can only imagine the difficulties I’d have had if I’d done this any other way.

Garage Shelves materials

Lumber11/10/202x2x8’ Furring Strip67.18
Lumber11/10/202x6x8’ #2 Douglas Fir81.61
Supplies11/10/20Formular 250 2” 4x836.38
Lumber11/10/204x8 OSB 19/32262.20
Tools11/10/20Kreg Rip Cut Aluminum Circular Saw Guide37.89
Delivery11/10/20Delivery Charge96.43
Paint11/10/20Killz 2 Primer (1 gallon)18.02
Tools11/10/20Ryobi 18volt 7-1/4” Brushless Circular Saw105.09
Supplies11/13/20Screws 8x1-1/2” T-Star20.59
Supplies11/13/20Screws 10x3” T-Star10.29
Supplies11/13/20Titebond Wood Glue4.30
Supplies11/13/20Paint Tray Liner (3-pack)3.23
Tools11/13/20Safety Glasses8.09
Tools11/13/207-1/4” 40 tooth saw blade16.22
Paint11/17/20Grey paint (1 gallon)35.46
Paint11/25/20Killz 2 Primer (1 gallon)19.21
Supplies11/25/20Paint Tray Liner (3-pack)3.23
Paint11/25/20Grey paint (1 gallon)35.46
Supplies11/25/20Screws 10x3” T-Star10.29
Supplies11/25/20Scotch Blue tape4.30
Tools12/06/20Ryobi 18volt drill/drive kit69.34
Supplies12/06/203M sandpaper 120 grit5.38
Supplies12/06/203M sandpaper 60 grit5.38
Supplies12/06/20Diablo 6pt jigsaw blade 5pk7.55
Supplies12/06/20Wood putty3.99
Supplies12/08/20Paint Tray Liner (3-pack)3.23
Paint12/08/20Chalkboard paint12.28
Containers12/10/2056 Quart container w/lid29.22
Containers12/10/2032 Quart box w/lid25.97
Lumber12/11/202x6x4’ Pre-Cut Lumber32.83
Lumber12/11/202x4x4’ Pre-Cut Lumber11.64
Containers12/14/2032 Quart Utility tub w/lid17.25
Supplies12/22/20Hex bolts ½ x 3 ½5.37
Supplies12/22/20Washers, ½”1.86

Garage Shelves time

11/08/201.50Demo old cabinets: right side
11/09/201.50Demo old cabinets: left side
11/10/201.50Demo old cabinets: corner cabinet and workbench
11/14/203.00Fabricate left and right bases; assemble rip guide; rip 2 OSB sheets
11/15/202.00Finish cutting lumber for left and right cabinets. Size for doors.
11/16/203.50Prime coat on all left and right cabinet pieces
11/17/203.25Paint on all left and right cabinet pieces
11/18/202.75Assemble 1 side wall. We learn Dave can’t count.
11/19/203.50Assemble 2nd side wall, 3rd except for hinges. Cut/painted short pieces I was short (8 of them)
11/21/202.50Mount left side cabinet side walls to base, mount cleats to wall, attach walls to cleats. Cut shelves.
11/22/202.50Assemble 4th side wall, mount hinges on 3rd, 4th side walls, mount right side cleats, attach right cabinet side walls to cleats
11/23/202.00Cut shelves for right side cabinet, attach walls to base. Need paint, 3” screws.
11/25/202.25Fit drawer carcass into place, cut base for it. Cut most of the lumber for upper center and upper above drawers.
11/26/200.75Cut shelves for upper center and upper left half-cabinet.
11/28/204.25Prime coat on all shelves, upper center and left half-cabinet
11/30/203.75Paint on Saturday’s primered pieces
12/01/203.00Assemble/mount upper center (except for hinges)[many measurement errors, new cutting/painting required); secured 4 shelves.
12/02/201.25Secure remaining shelves, mount upper center doors
12/03/202.75Cut correct lengths of pieces for upper left half-cabinet, painted pieces, mounted cabinet (except for hinges)
12/04/203.25Mounted all doors, sanded/primed door for upper left half-cabinet as test, ripped 4 of 6 upper doors to size
12/05/202.25Ripped last two small doors, all large doors to size; drilled new holes for hardware; sanded small doors. Doors that were haning straight no longer do.
12/06/201.00Sanded large doors; applied wood putty where necessary
12/07/203.75Sand drawers, carcass; prime coat on doors, drawers, drawer base
12/08/201.50Gray paint on small doors, drawers, drawer base, edges of large doors
12/09/204.50Mount/secure drawer carcass; chalk paint on large doors; some touch-up paint; mount doors
12/15/201.00Measure cuts for workbench
12/16/201.50Cut lumber for workbench; assemble main bench part
12/20/201.25Sand, paint workbench
12/22/203.75Install workbench, mount vice on bench, mock up tool shelves, mount chargers on wall
12/24/202.25Measure and cut shelf cleats; cut slots; paint pieces; assemble and mount shelves

Garage Cabinets 3

In the previous installment, I said that cutting all the wood to the proper size and painting it before putting it together “assumes some skills that I may not actually possess”. This was not so much a prophetic statement as an acknowledgment of my own limitations. As I learned, the two skills that turned out to be in short supply are counting and measuring. In the work done to the point of my last installment, I was able to lay everything out on the floor or on my giant piece of rigid insulation. But once I had the biggest part of the structure built and fixed in place, my shortcomings came to the fore.

But I’m jumping ahead a bit. Last time, I had the carcasses of the two main cabinets built and fixed in place. I also had the shelves cut to size. I considered leaving them unpainted, but that consideration lasted about six minutes once I had them put in place. They definitely needed paint. I did all of the painting on the floor of the garage. For the shelves, I painted one side of the shelf and half the edges, so that I could pick them up when they were still wet and take them outside to dry. So each shelf got painted and moved four times: twice for primer and twice for paint. The photo doesn’t show it very well, but each piece is sitting on little pieces of scrap wood to keep them off the deck.

Once the paint coat was dry, or dry enough, I moved them all back inside and was able to stand them up, with little scrap pieces in between to keep the painted surfaces from touching each other. This meant the Lotus didn’t have to spend the night outside.

The clever observer will have noticed that I’m attaching the door hinges onto the 2×6 pieces. So each door needs one of those. I’m putting two doors in the center above the workbench and another one in the corner. Said observer will note that there are only two 2×6 pieces cut and painted. What’s not possible to see here is that nearly every stick of 2×2 is the wrong length. Most commonly, they were either an inch and a half too long or too short. The long ones aren’t a big problem, as I can cut them. But, as I can’t find my board stretcher, I had to cut new pieces to rectify the short ones.

Here’s the center cabinet in place. Attaching the vertical pieces wasn’t an issue: they got screwed to the other cabinets. The cleats that went on the wall were also trivial: they got screwed to the studs in the wall. The interesting ones were the horizontal pieces in front, particularly the bottom one. I got them all in, but that last one wasn’t pretty.

Here we have the drawer carcass offered up (but not secured, as it and its base still need paint) and the half-size upper in the corner. I managed to cut the shelf pieces correctly but got every other cut wrong. For a while there, I was thinking I’d bought too many 2×2’s. Turns out, I had just the right number after all!

Once I had all the carcasses built, I needed to work on the doors. As you’ll recall, I made everything slightly narrower than the original cabinets. I needed to rip two inches off each of the large doors and the small doors above them. In the center, I only needed to take off about half an inch. That door in the corner (that has already been primed) was the only one that didn’t need to be resized.

It took me a little while to get the doors properly mounted. Most of the hinges were correctly located, but a couple needed a bit of adjustment. Then, with the doors hung, I needed to figure out how to manipulate the hinge adjustments to make the doors hang square. Looking at the mounted door, imagine an X and Y-axis. A set screw is used to move the door closer or farther from the hinge on the X-axis. Between the two (or three) hinges, you can rotate the door a bit to make it hang square. After a fair bit of monkeying around, I managed to get all the doors square. Now it was time to start cutting.

The rip cut guide came in handy again. It took me a couple of tries to get the best technique, which was a bit stressful, as I’d only get one shot at each door. For my first try, I made a few minor errors. First, I thought I’d be better off using a finish blade on the saw as I was concerned about chipping the laminate and I was hoping to get a smoother cut. Second, I had the saw two inches from the guide rather than twenty-two inches from the guide. Third, I cut from the back of the door rather than the front.

With the finish blade, cutting was much slower and after only two cuts I’d drained the battery. With the slow cut and the short distance between the guide and the blade, I somehow managed not to get a straight cut. And, of course, the hinges got in the way of my guide. Once I corrected those errors (and waited for the battery to recharge), I was back in business.

As I cut each door, I rehung it. Pretty quickly I saw that none of them were square any longer. After more monkeying with the set screws, I had them all square again.

Having cut two inches off the doors, I needed to drill new holes for the handles. The simple solution was to use the scrap that I cut off as a jig for the drill. This gave me the perfect position, both in from the edge and up from bottom (or down from the top, if you prefer). It also ensured that my drill would be perpendicular.

Then it was back to painting. Because I was painting over the laminate, I wanted to hit the doors with the sander to rough up the surface, hoping to get the primer to stick. The inside of the door is a white laminate, and I’m happy to keep that as is. So I masked around the edges. Then it was back to the “paint on the garage floor, dry on the back deck” dance. I did two coats of primer on the faces of the big doors.

On the big doors, I was doing two colors: the edges would get the same gray as everything else while the face would get black chalkboard paint. So once the edges of the big doors were dry, they got masked off. I got about two-thirds of the way done with this masking job when I ran out of tape. A wise person would go to the store and get another roll of tape. I, however, just peeled the tape off the backs of the small doors and used that, hoping it wasn’t a mistake. I got lucky: it worked.

The chalkboard paint was interesting. It comes in black or green or a version you can tint any color you like. When I was in school, all the chalkboards were green and most people called them chalkboards except the older teachers, who still called them blackboards. In one school I attended, they had a variety of colors, including blue and pink. I figured black would be best. I’m not at all disappointed.

The texture of the wet paint was different than any paint I’ve used before. And, even though the final color is a nice deep black, when it was going on it was more like navy blue. The label on the can said it would cover 110 square feet. I have more like 35-40 square feet of door, so two coats would be 70-80 square feet. I barely had enough. I wasn’t applying it that thickly, either. The first coat was thin enough I wasn’t sure that two coats would suffice.

So this is where we stand now. All the cabinets are done and finished. The big doors are chalkboards I can use for scribbling drawings or to-do lists or parts lists or whatever. (Or, they will be in a few days. I still need to “prep” the chalkboard surface.)

But this is the project that never ends. I’m just short of 60 hours into it and still need to build the workbench. It took me a while to decide exactly how to build the workbench, but I wrestled that problem to the floor today and bought the lumber. And, of course, there’s a change order. I did some searching on the web and saw some ideas on how to store various power tools and their associated chargers. That will result in a couple of shelves in the corner above the drawers. And lastly, I’ll need to sort through all the junk that was in the cabinets to start with. Some of it will get sent to the recycling center, some will get landfilled, and most will get organized and put away in my nice, new cabinets.

Garage Cabinets 2

In the first installment, I made the simple statement “I bought some lumber.” That is true, but, of course, it’s never that simple. I ordered everything online from Home Depot but never saw any place to say that I want it delivered. I have no vehicle in which I can carry 4×8 sheets of OSB. In the end, I was asked for a shipping address, so I supplied it. It turns out that the two smallest items on my order (the only things I could fit in the Lotus) would be shipped to me, but not the rest.

I called the store to say that I need my order delivered. I got a bit of a run-around. Eventually, they said that when I got a text message saying my order was ready for pick-up, I should call and tell them I want it delivered instead. I got an email, not a text message. And it said my order was only partially ready. I called them anyway.

After some more run-around, the solution was that a clerk there in the store would delete my order and re-enter it, specifying that it’s for delivery. I’d have guessed it would be much easier for them to simply add a line-item for the delivery charge and be done with it, but what makes me think anything should be simple?

They told me to expect delivery on Friday (the 13th). I asked if they could give me an approximate time. “Give us a call on Friday morning and we’ll let you know.” So I called promptly at their opening time. I was told that it might arrive sometime around 12:30. At about nine I see a forklift dropping my lumber in my driveway. I ran out and talked to the guy, hoping there was a way to get it into the back yard. No deal on that. And when I told him the store said he’d be here at 12:30 he just laughed. “They have no idea when I’m going to deliver anything.” Why should I expect anything different?

I managed to get it all moved to the back yard by myself. It was a bit of a struggle with the big sheets of OSB, but I managed.

Here is my lumber, mostly out of the weather on the back deck, along with the carcass of the drawer section of the old workbench. I’ve covered the lumber with a tarp for when it snows, but the tarp is slightly too small and has a few holes in it. So it goes. I’m sure everything will survive.

The critical part of these new cabinets, I think, is the base. The weak base was certainly the Achilles heel of the old cabinets. The challenge here is dealing with the uneven floor. I figured out how to scribe the shape onto the lumber so I could make a reasonable stab at cutting them. I guess I finally get some real-world benefit from watching all those This Old House episodes!

The next issue I had to deal with was how to cut up my OSB. The biggest challenge is to rip two 4×8 sheets into four 2×8 sheets for the walls. Then, for the shelves, I’d need a bunch of sheets two feet by not quite four feet. I’m lucky to cut a 2×4 straight. I decided the way to go was to get the Kreg rip cut guide. Run it along the milled edge and even I can get a nice, straight cut.

I don’t have any sawhorses, and even if I did, I’m not sure I’m capable of doing an eight-foot long rip on them, so I figured the way to go was to get a big sheet of solid foam insulation and do all the cuts on my deck. I can kneel on it, I can walk on it, and it’s two inches thick so there’s no way I’ll accidentally cut all the way through it. This combination worked like a charm. You’ll spot that sheet of foam lurking in many of my pictures.

Rather than putting the cabinets together and then painting them, I figured it would be better to cut all the wood to the proper size and paint it before putting it together. This assumes some skills that I may not actually possess. The good thing is, I’m building garage cabinets instead of kitchen cabinets. Nobody wants me to build kitchen cabinets! If I’m a bit off on my cuts, my mistakes should be well hidden by all the junk I’ll be storing.

The color coat went on easier than the primer, for two reasons. First, I learned from my mistakes on the primer coat. The big pieces of OSB were no problem, but the sticks of 2×2 demanded a proper procedure. By the time I was done with priming those, I came up with what I think is the most efficient methodology. Second, the color coat dried a lot faster than the primer.

Here I am holding up the first assembled side wall. It’s pretty much square, plumb, and level. And I’m reasonably certain I have the hinges in the correct places. The challenge was in getting it secured. It’s not lined up with a stud, so I can’t just screw it to the wall. I need to mount the cleats for the top, bottom, and shelves first, then fasten the wall to the cleats. With Michael’s help, I managed to get the left side cabinet walls put up. And, because everything is easier the second time, I was able to get the right side done on my own when Michael was at work.

Here we are with some shelves in, to make sure everything is still square. In order to get the shelves in, I needed to take off one of the hinge mounts on each cabinet. And, yes, they have a different number of shelves on purpose. This mimics how I had the prior ones set up. Those shelves were adjustable, but I had them set up like this and never moved them in twelve years.

The clever observer will note that the doors are too wide. And they’re not gray, like everything else. It took me a while, but I figured out how to adjust the hinges to get the doors to hang straight. They’re too wide because the cabinets are about an inch narrower than the old ones, and the walls are thicker by an inch and a half. So the hinges are about four inches closer together than they were before. The plan is to rip the doors to size, then sand the faux wood grain laminate finish enough to take paint.

I still have quite a bit of work left to do. The drawers will fit between the left cabinet and the wall and I’ll put a small cabinet above them. And above the pegboard in the center will be a shallower cabinet, sixteen inches rather than twenty-four. Finally, I’ll build a workbench in the center. It’ll be a bit deeper than the one I’m replacing, and stout enough to handle a nice vice.

Before I began, I guessed that I would be able to complete this project in 32 hours, not counting the demolition. Up to the point in that last photograph, I’ve logged 25 hours and I’m maybe halfway done. It should be no surprise that I’m not much better at estimating carpentry projects than software projects.