A possible problem begins to rear its ugly head.
Tuesday was an absolutely crazy day for me. That’s one of the weird things about the work I do. I can get paid to just sit around and wait — which is basically what I’ve been doing since May 26 when my first contract started — but every once in a while, I have to actually work for the money I’m paid. And when I work, I work hard.
My day started at 3 AM when I woke up knowing that I’d have to wake up at 4 AM to fly at 4:30 AM. Why I didn’t wake up at 4 AM, which is when my alarm was set to go off, is beyond me. But that early start was part of what left me completely exhausted long before sunset.
I was in the helicopter at 4:30 and over my first orchard at 4:35. Good thing. My client was parked on the road overlooking the orchard. So yes, I was 5 minutes late. But he was also clearly able to see that I needed my landing light to illuminate the treetops in the predawn light. I was one of the first pilots in the air that morning.
I flew for 2-1/2 hours, stopping once for fuel. I got home at 7:20 AM. Angel’s crew was there and they were hard at work on the back wall. They’d run the metal all the way to the end of the wall, covering up the window frame, which was still waiting for the window to arrive.
I had just enough time to change my clothes and head out again, this time in my truck. I had to meet with the building plan inspector at 8 AM in his office. The framer and his builder girlfriend had raised some flags about the way the roof over my living space would be completed and I needed clarification.
(Note to women working in male-dominated industries: Using condescending phrases like “you’re not a general contractor so you wouldn’t know” and “this is woman to woman advice” to a potential female client is not a good way to score points. Never — and I mean never — address me as “girlfriend” unless we are already friends. And for anyone in the building industry: stirring up trouble with a building plan inspector for a job you haven’t been hired for is a great way to lose a potential client. Just saying.)
I got the information I sought but didn’t want. I fired off a bunch of email messages from my phone and left a few voicemail messages. Then I grabbed a breakfast sandwich and latte at my new favorite drive-through coffee shop and headed out to Wenatchee Petroleum. Although I’d hoped to avoid using the on-board transfer tank on my truck this year, I knew it would make my life easier. So I bought 75 gallons of 100LL fuel — saving more than $1/gallon in the process — and headed home.
I ran into Corey, the boss of my construction project, on Joe Miller Road, right before the turn to my road. He was on his way out after visiting the site. I was surprised to see him; I thought he was on vacation. He told me not to worry about the roof, that Tanya would take care of it when she got back from her trip to the east coast. I told him that I wasn’t that worried, that I knew they’d do the right thing. Someone came up behind me on the road and because we were blocking the road, I said goodbye and continued on my way. He called moments later to finish the conversation, pointing out that the project was still moving forward at a good clip.
It certainly was.
When I got home, I saw that not only had all the windows and exterior man-doors been delivered, but the windows had been installed. The south-facing wall was done. And two plumbers were working on the stub-outs for my septic system and water lines.
I’d been hoping to catch the plumbers and give them instructions before they began, but they had already dug a trench for the septic system line and laid in some pipe. This was not done as my friend Bob and I had planned over the weekend. I talked with them for a while to learn about why they were doing what they were doing and tell them what I wanted. We came to a very reasonable compromise that didn’t require them to undo anything and got me the setup I wanted — primarily an extension of the water line for an outside spigot and an additional sewer takeout inside the RV garage. I learned a lot and got a better handle on the plumbing tasks ahead of me.
But I didn’t stop for long. The first of two pilots I’d hired to help me this season had arrived at the airport and I needed to meet him to show him the orchards. But rather than drive out to the airport, I asked him to come fetch me in his helicopter. He showed up with a companion a few minutes later and didn’t bother to shut down. His companion jumped in the back with Penny and I climbed into the front passenger seat. We then proceeded to tour four of the orchards he’d be helping me dry over the next four weeks.
Back on the ground, his companion and I drove my truck and Jeep to the airport. We piled into the truck, saw one orchard from the ground, stopped for lunch, and toured three of the others.
That’s when the second pilot I was meeting today texted to say he was about an hour out. Back to the airport to meet him. He’d come with a companion, too. I said goodbye to the first pair of pilots, who were heading home for a few days before the contract started, and turned the Jeep keys over to the newly arrived pilot’s companion. I was loaning the pilot my Jeep for a few days; his wife with his truck and trailer would be arriving before the weekend. We all went to Quincy where he parked the helicopter and we piled into the truck for a tour of four orchards in that area.
By this time, it was around 6 PM and I was completely exhausted. I’d been going nonstop since about 4 AM and had driven more than 100 miles, much of it on muddy orchard roads. I was glad to leave the two pilots behind at a Quincy motel and head home. I still don’t know how I summoned the energy to stop for milk along the way.
When I got home, I stopped to snap this photo of my building in the late afternoon light. Two walls of my RV garage/shop were completely covered. I really like the color scheme.
Here’s the time-lapse for the day. Again, most of the work is done on the far side of the building, out of sight of the camera.