Working for the Man in Logan, Utah

I found there to be a sort of yen and yang symbiosis in the pair of reasons I selected for going on a road trip. The new car angle you've already heard about, but the companion reason that nestled up so neatly with my goal of driving some fun roads was that I'd been wanting to go visit my friend Bruce and check on the progress he was making on a house he's busily been building for his brother Lance in Logan, Utah.

Bruce is a structural engineer by training and is a veritable genius when it comes to making practically anything (well, except maybe a salad). Over the past couple of months, he's been working to cast the structural walls of the house he's building using a technique he developed which involves forming cement around a thick styrofoam core (that's a cross section of the door jamb in the garage seen at right). As you might imagine, the cement and foam combine to make a nice sturdy structure, but they also make a highly effective thermal barrier which should keep the temperature inside the house pretty damn comfortable, all the year round.
I was really happy when I found out Bruce would be doing a cement pour while I was there so I could witness the whole process from start to finish. I had so many questions about it all!

When I first arrived at the job site, I found Bruce putting the finishing touches on the forms that would be filled during Friday's pour - the final set of upper panels for the garage section. Everything had to be ready for the truck to roll up and start pouring the next morning.

Which it did, right on schedule. When the truck arrived, a fellow named Darwin who was there to run the cement pump guided the chute into place and before I knew it, there was not only cement pouring out the truck's chute, but Darwin immediately had the pump cranked up and cement started plopping out the end of a huge heavy hose that Lance held over the forms to fill them. The pump is a pretty serious piece of equipment and needs a careful tender to avoid calamity. Pushing that amount of concrete through a hose isn't as easy as it looks! I was full of questions for Darwin about what he was doing as he went about his business. He was very patient and informative and friendly, I'm happy to report.

As the fresh cement came plunging out of the hose, Nicole leveraged her many years of forklift training to expertly wheel Lance around the perimeter of the form set so he could continue filling in the cavities on either side of the foam. Bruce went right behind with a giant vibrator, which aside from providing a never-ending source of ridiculously easy dirty jokes, also helps the cement settle down more compactly into the void by shaking the hell out of it.
After all the prepared wall forms had been filled, the cement truck driver signaled that there was still a small amount of material left in the barrel, and Bruce Almighty was instantly at the ready with special forms he had devised to produce a bunch of cement paving blocks! Bruce has amazing skills in maximizing his resources - the man won't even let a little wet concrete go to waste he's so efficient. After the pour concluded, the lot of us worked to clean things up so the cement could just sit overnight and do it's job.
Saturday was spent removing all the various and sundry elements of the forms and scaffolding, revealing the lovely new layer that had been poured just the day before! Voila! Beautiful! That's one of the most satisfying things about concrete - the almost instantaneous gratification. Each piece of the scaffolding/form get up was carefully disassembled and staged in some pile or other, ready for it's next turn on the next layer.

Saturday evening after we'd finished putting all our toys away at the job site, the boss let us have a rare night off. I relaxed by washing my car in the yard while Bruce and Lance labored to prepare the foam for the next pour. Bruce had devised a jig that let him cut precise slots in the foam, and proceeded to whip up a beaded foam flurry that was probably as close as I'll get to seeing snow this winter.

Sunday saw the whole process begin anew as Lance and Bruce labored to reinstall the scaffolding and set up the new forms for the next pour. I put in a hard day's labor as well, wiping the sweat from my humble brow and dreaming of quitting time when we'd return to the Christiansen house and enjoy the tradition and deliciousness of Sunday Dinner!
Judy and Pat Christiansen had been such gracious hosts all weekend - feeding me, giving me a nice cozy spot to sleep and even toting me along on their Saturday morning garage sale trek. I imposed on their kindness once more by insisting that I be there for Sunday dinner before I headed out of town. I absolutely love the concept of the Christiansen Sunday dinner - as steady and reliable as the sun in the morning and the moon at night. I had been lucky enough to visit once before on a Sunday at which time I was treated to the turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy version. This Sunday Judy was preparing her famous enchilada casserole and zucchini brownies with chocolate icing for dessert! And boy howdy was it all tremendously delicious.
It was a bit difficult to take my leave. In the fours days I'd been there, I'd enjoyed a flurry of social engagements in between stints out at the job site and was feeling attached to all the fine folks I'd spent my time with. I said my goodbyes and headed out just as the sun was setting so I could get some miles under me before I put my pallet down for the night. It'd be easy interstate driving that'd help me land a little closer to my target area. Sorry as I was to go, it felt good to be back on the road.

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