YIPPEE, Vol. 2 (a.k.a. "So, How's the Yurt?"), January 5th thru February 8th, 2004
Welcome to the second issue of YIPPEE, the journal of Chris and Cassandra's Adventure with Yurts.
Once again, YIPPEE = Yurts In Progress (Pretty Exciting Eh?!)
To read the journal online and see photos, go to http://www.noworldorder.net/yippee
At the end of YIPPEE Volume 1, Chris had left the Poocham Road abode, returning to Vancouver for work, on Sunday, January 4th. C&C's 14' yurt was up and they were living in it. The issues of drafts and inadequate heaters had been set aside until they could properly address them when Chris returned home next. The warm outdoor temps of 30-40F had lulled them into believing that waiting one more week would be OK.
YIPPEE Vol 2, Part 1:
"Old Man Winter Huffed and He Puffed, but He Could not Blow That Yurt Down!"
Old Man Winter woke with a jump and fury that first week in January, plummeting air temperatures more than forty-five degrees to a frostbite inducing -15F. His Wintery-ness wasted no time and spared no strength blowing in icy winds to whisk another ten to twenty degrees away. Thus, January in Westmoreland, New Hampshire, by the Yurt, behind The House, on a Hill, over Yonder on Poocham Road ... was indeed cold and windy. The drafts and poor heater quality began impeding warmth inside C&C's yurt.
Recall, if you will, a scene from the second Stars Wars movie. On a distant icy planet, Luke cut open one of those huge beasts and slept inside its belly to keep warm and survive the frigid nighttime conditions. If Cassandra had such a beast, she might have done likewise! She made the unfortunate error of switching on the electric kettle while the space heater was still on. Going into the garage to reset the blown circuit would have easily and quickly restored the power and heater to working condition. However, this also would have disabled Cassandra for a week or two; so unpleasantly that she instead chose to brave the severe cold without proper heating until Chris was home. Later, during that critical night, as her breath danced in white wisps before her eyes, visions of warm bellied Star Wars beasts danced in her head. Such is the desperation one feels (vegan or not) when confronted with surviving a living space that is barely above freezing. Evidently, by the ice particles formed in the water jug, some spots in the yurt that night clearly dipped below freezing.
By 8AM, outdoor air temps had warmed up (yes, warmed up) to -15F outside, forty-seven degrees below the point at which water freezes. Having survived the night, Cassandra went into the house to the relative warmth of 43F. She drank a bunch of coffee, and huddled by a space heater listening to the radio until Chris arrived home. At which point she (for MCS reasons noted in previous YIPPEE) had to return to the yurt. Chris easily reset the circuit and, after completion of his MCS safety procedures, the two got to work addressing the draft and heater problems. Though the outdoor temperatures would remain frostbite friendly and frenzied winds reign for another three weeks, this was fortunately the most dramatic night.
YIPPEE Vol 2, Part 2:
"C&C and The Four Heaters"
Well, Old Man Winter's fiercest huffing and puffing did not budge the yurt in the slightest; a fact which made C&C smile. "Ha-Ha! Our frustrations with that darn Snow & Wind Kit paid off nicely!"
C&C's combating of His cold wintry air turned out to be much more difficult. Eventually, gradually, and with numerous trips by Chris to various hardware stores over the next four weeks, they did succeed. Using foil tape, Reflectix, several types of weather-stripping, blankets, snow, ingenuity and perseverance, they crafted a draft-free yurt and stayed warm.
During this McGuyver-esque period, C&C searched for proper heating. Remember that their little yurt-behind-the-house is temporary and thus portable heating is required. The two heaters they began with were not sufficient once Old Man Winter awoke.
Four different heaters were tried throughout the month. One was unsafe, another was defective, another a wimp and the fourth heater was j-u-s-t right. It is a Vornado IntelliTEMP. Although the outer shell is plastic, it is a heavy duty variety that apparently does not outgas much at all because it is safe for Cassandra. It was highly recommended to C&C from a fellow MCSer who survives similar cold in Wisconsin with similar sensitivities as Cassandra. So, Chris ordered it online and after testing it, C&C began using it in their yurt on Feb 4th.
Despite their relative heater success, C&C have come to the conclusion that a 14' yurt simply cannot be heated by one single portable electric space heater in -15F weather with wind chills of -30F. Thus, C&C are keeping the radiator style heater in the yurt and during the worst cold, will turn it on to supplement the good heater. With outdoor daytime temps back above zero and even approaching 32F recently, this should not be needed very often.
P.S. C&C are downright amazed to report that 20F is quite pleasant and warm..."It's all relative!"
YIPPEE Vol 2, Part 3:
"Return of The King"
Chris returned from Vancouver on the 23rd! Finished with the project there, he was then 'on the bench', waiting for the next assignment from his employer. Since this means he is to be available on a moment's notice, C&C approached each day as it arrived and did not plan much further. They were grateful for each day Chris was home and attempted to take full advantage of that fact, making progress on project YIPPEE, and accomplishing much that cannot normally be fit into weekend visits.
YIPPEE Vol 2, Part 4:
"Cassandra and the Glass Slipper"
The grand ball in the yurt, the safest place Cassandra had ever lived, ended abruptly the second Monday in January around 11AM. The glass slipper fell off, plunging Cassandra quickly into MCS complications. An unavoidable encounter with the UPS delivery person who wandered back to the yurt rendered her ill and debilitated the entire second week of January. Throughout the next two weeks, strong winds blew the neighbor's unsafe laundry fumes up to C&C's abode. Then, as Old Man Winter started easing off a bit (translation= daytime temps rose to zero and above), some supremely loud logging operations started up nearby. Although the pummeling noise is aggravating and thoroughly abolishes the winter's peace, the worst aspect is that its close proximity has ruined the outdoor air for Cassandra, both for daytime snowshoeing and trips between yurt and house. Since C&C's living arrangement requires making trips to the house, the presence of unsafe outdoor air continues to bring Cassandra difficulties. She wears her mask for these trips which does help. C&C had also previously discovered that Chris could not walk past the yurt safely with any mail or when returning from adventures in the unsafe world.
The silver lining of these experiences is that C&C can make appropriate revisions to their Yurt Plans now before permanent installation on their own land. Consequently, C&C now plan to use both the 30' and 14' yurts for safe living space. They will build a 'Welcome Center' shed near the entrance to the property, far away from the yurts, to be used for storage, Chris' work area, package and mail handling and Chris'/visitors' decontamination. This will keep the safe living space and unsafe work/storage space farther apart. As for neighboring laundry and logging operations, purchasing the right piece of land will resolve those issues.
YIPPEE Vol 2, Part 5:
"The Search for Land Continues..."
C&C may not need a fairy godmother to help them fine tune their yurt plans, but... Actually, if anyone sees Her, C&C would be grateful if She could send them some good land to buy. They're wish is for a minimum of 30 acres in a remote area, (no large farming/agricultural operations nearby, not near town, city, industry, freeway or major roadway) and away from snowmobile and ATV trails. They are open to living in either NH or VT.
Finding the right land parcel is a crucial part of YIPPEE. It's taking longer than C&C hoped. They reviewed countless listings and have many feelers out to obtain new ones. They had taken a short break from looking at possible parcels to get the 14' yurt up. Each road trip is a considerable time investment and quite challenging due to Cassandra's health issues, sometimes debilitating her for days afterwards. Nonetheless, with Chris back home, and snowshoes in tow, C&C started making trips to see land again.. The snowshoeing is not only necessary but fun!
On Jan 27th C&C visited the 50 acre Baltimore VT property another time, with the deed description, to locate and snowshoe its boundaries. They were out for three hours, but dusk fell before they could finish. Chris plans to visit the town clerk's office during its limited hours, Saturdays 10-12AM, to investigate further. This property is still on the 'possible' list; and not merely because there's some cosmic appeal to their search for safe housing taking them from Baltimore, MD, to Baltimore, VT. This property is located on the side of a small mountain and has great southern exposure. One concern though is whether it is too close to Springfield, an industrial area.
Next, on Jan 30th, C&C visited a 47.7 acre parcel in Westminster West, VT for the second time. The first time they were not able to find it because it is accessed via a right-of-way. As they're finding with most land parcels, it was not marked. This second time was fun, snowshoeing on a sunny and warmer day. But, they couldn't locate any boundary markers. Chris subsequently made a trip to see the real estate agent and obtain a better detail of the deed map. C&C hope to make their third trip with said map soon. They won't buy any property without walking the boundary, but with this particular piece locating the boundary is especially important. Its odd shape may mean their yurt home would be too close to the neighboring houses. As C&C learned from their current situation living on 11 acres, having enough buffer between where they build and the neighbors' houses is a major objective.
Also on the 30th, after the above hike, C&C drove to a parcel in Chester VT. Cassandra got quite ill en route. The two knew right away it was not a good parcel and didn't even bother getting out. They find it discouraging to spend numerous hours traveling, with Cassandra being quite ill the entire day and a few days afterward, for a parcel that so obviously isn't right. A parcel may seem like it has the right qualities but be different when seen in person. Or, someone else's description is not accurate. C&C try to be as thorough as possible prior to visiting a site, but this has happened before and is just a difficult and unavoidable part of the process.
C&C had another such experience visiting a 53.4 acre parcel in the mountain town of Bradford NH on Thursday, Feb 6th. Additional complications arose from poor directions; they spent far too long on several roadways that were causing Cassandra great malady. This trip, combined with other illness promoting trips made in NH, are making C&C wonder if VT might be the better place to live.
Hopefully Chris will be 'on the bench' a couple more weeks so that C&C can continue making progress on the land hunt. Under his previous Vancouver working schedule, the trips described above would have taken three to fours weekends to complete and meant Cassandra was sick for Chris' entire visit.
YIPPEE Vol 2, Conclusion:
"So, How's the yurt?"
The yurt is great! C&C look forward to the time when they are on their own land, living and settled into both yurts.
The yurt is bright and cheerful even on cloudy days and with all windows covered.
Inside the yurt is the safest place Cassandra has ever lived.
The yurt is warm!
The yurt is new and different. C&C have analyzed their setup and communicated several times with Pacific Yurts to improve both their existing arrangement and next install.
This yurt is small. C&C don't mind since they know this is a temporary situation and superior to living inside the house. One accommodation they had talked about from the beginning, a fold up bed to allow more floor space for yoga, was just completed. After creating numerous designs, they decided on one, assembled and installed it over the weekend.
There is finally a bunch of snow to compliment the yurt.
Although the yurt can emit strange and wonderful sounds on any day or night when Cassandra and Chris are inside, after snowfalls a high pitched whir of snow and/or sleet whooshing off the yurt's dome roof can periodically be heard. Quite startling and interesting.
The yurt, as far as we can tell, is neither a bear-attractant nor a mountain lion beacon.
The skylight dome is spectacular. C&C often gaze gleefully and peacefully up into the starry night...
Until the next installment, may joy be in your hearts, too. YIPPEE!
We added more info based on our review of how we got the yurt erected. Follow these links if you are interested: