July 26th – Almost 4 months later.

Today I yet again received a call from Will regarding campus palm trimmings and beat feet over to campus. It took me a while but I found them hidden in the Library walk way, trimming away. They recognized me and were friendly. I parked on the sidewalk and loaded up the Volvo for a second time.. I loaded it up good. This time I’d have fauns left over for sure. With the car loaded, I tied the palms down and asked them where they’d be next and headed home.

Again I got home, took a 15 min break, and went to work in the horrid heat making this things compete.

Today is the the completion date for my palapa. I got the whole thing done to the tip. I don’t know if this really has any importance to you, but in my mind it’s kind of like finally moving out of boxes after you’ve lived in your first house for a while. You kind of remember it as the real date you moved in. I’ve had parties under an incomplete palapa, foosball tournaments, and just random friends check the place out, but I was still living out of boxes. Today I flatned and recycled those brown beasts and they were no more. The palapa was complete, I was done. This is great. Please come and enjoy.

A breif photolog of the last stages of the build:

It’s done! Next we need a little rain and a lot of sun to flatten the new roof down and bake it to a golden brown. Then the next upgrade will be sand and a plaque, perhaps a bottle of champagne.

Two Months produced:

A 14’x14′ square with a 10.5′ high pitched roof, and more than 400 palm leaves covering 3 hammocks, 6 strings of Target brand decor light balls, 16 misters, ___ feet of redwood, 120 pounds of cement, and a couple of comfortable Tucsonans.

Palapa Control to Major Tom

July 21st and 22nd

My car is in the shop so I can’t get the leaves, but I spent all day looking at the palapa. Will came over and we hung in the hammocks wishing it was done. Friday Megan took me to the hardware store and helped me get some things to work on irrigation and frills. I was determined to get some trenches dug and some pipes laid as well as my sprinklers revamped, move the drinking fountain, and really secure the misters to the palapa. I worked all day digging the trench and laid the pipe across the yard easily enough. I also ran water to the north west corner of the palapa where I then brought some copper pipe up the side for the misters and drinking fountain. Bracketing them in with more redwood I’ve created a console of sorts for the palapa. I got about half way done before Megan came back over Friday night and we went to dinner. I left everything as it was so I could return Saturday.

Saturday I filled in all the trenches and finished the plumbing and then proceeded to try and level the grade of the dirt by a couple of inches. All day shoveling the crusty top layer of dirt turned out to be a bit of work and a whole lot of dirt, but now the whole yard is a little more defined by each of the planter brick borders and seems a little cleaner. Now that I’m done with the plumbing, turning the misters on is really quite simple, you just spin a little actuator. And I think it looks really good too. In the picture you can see the mist from above raining down… it’s wonderful.

Beautiful Mist

July 19th

Will and I go to the hardware store and pick up some tubing and a pile of pieces for setting up misters. We first attached a whole slew of them to the perimeter of the palapa, but the misters are kind of cheap so they didn’t work well, they just soaked you in the hammock. So we disconnected the line and ran a new one up to the top of the palapa where it would service four and spray from higher up. They’re still a little heavy, but it’s awesome having a little mist while in the hammocks.


July 18th

Free palapa roof at school!

Will calls me up today and says dude they’re trimming the palm trees at school you’ve got to get over here and get them. So I drive over and ask the workers if I can take their green palm leaves. “Sure.” They don’t seem to be too put out about it. In fact the boss even has a guy pull all the green ones out for me to put into my car.

My car is loaded up to the brim, it’s awesome. One lady asks, “You makin’ a tree house?” and I say, “Yu
p! Exactly what I’m making.” She got all excited and laughed a lot. Two police officers ride by on their bikes and ask what I’m doing. I tell them, “I’m making a south American beach hut in my back yard.” Them seemed impressed, I felt impressive. I drove home with palm leaves sticking out my ears, parked the car, cooled off a bit, took some pictures, then pulled them out and started putting them up.

The leaves don’t have thorns but are like 6 feet long so I have to cut them down a bit. But they covered about half of the fourth side. The palapa looks even closer to completion. I’m excited.

More on the Roof

July 17th

Serious palapa progress. We’ve moved onto the third side of the roof and made great headway. We’ve started going for just green fauns. No more dry leaves. They take about 3 days to dry out in the heat and they also get flattened out by the rains so it works quite well. We’ve also started getting really big leaves and having too much fun between work. Per the pictures.

Two Sides Almost Done

July 8th
We bought some little ball lights to go around the inside of the palapa. I think they make us feel like it’s almost done.

July 10th

We’ve learned that dried out leaves are not what we want. We want semi dead leaves on their way out. This new info helps a lot.

Will, Megan, and I drove about today to some ‘sites’ that we had found in Tucson and plucked from the trees their dying leaves. We got a number of good car loads. Jon arrived and we had a teams of workers. Two folks putting leaves up and two looking for more. It worked really well. We’ve almost got two sides done.

While sitting in the hammocks at the end of the day it occurs to us that we’ve finished the sides that get the least sun during the day. Though they are both the sides that are visible to us. So we feel good about it.

July 6

July 6th

Will came over to work on the roof with me and we drove about his place looking for some fauns we had scouted out We filled my car before dark and then Megan came by and we started putting them up. We saw how the first few leaves went up and Megan has taken charge of getting the rest them up properly while Will and I remove the spikes from the dried leaves we’ve collected from scattered places around town.

Bend and Snap

Wednesday, July 5 – I am back in Tucson.

I was a little discouraged from our last attempt.. but I had some leaves to toy with. I tried nailing them up but they just pulled the nails out and spun about them. The nails also bounced off the flimsy cross pieces and simply caused me a headache in the half our I worked on it. I came back inside and examined my pictures to see how exactly they were done in Ecuador.

It was then quite evident.. all they did was bend them around the beams. Easily enough I broke 5 fauns in half. Then I reexamined my technique. I then found that breaking via one side produces a thin strip of fibers that keep their strength while breaking the other way causes all the fibers to deterorate. I was quickly on a roll and out of palm leaves. Now I knew how to do it, I just needed more. MORE.

A Breif Bit of Work.

June 21st. I got back from my time all over California and was ready to work on this palapa! I just worked, no plan, nothing. I cut and nailed and by the end of the day I had something I felt like I could work with. It wasn’t fancy, but it was the beginnings of what looked like a patio cover. Again a ‘project point.’ I’d be okay with just a patio cover.. nothing too fancy. I didn’t need palm leaves.. though it would be nice.
The following day I called Jon up and we finalized the cross pieces for the roof and then started on the month long journey to find palm fauns to cover the roof, a task I had no idea how to complete. So we started at square one. Asking people. I sent out a freecycle message and got a number of replies within the hour. We’d be gone tomorrow for Las Vegas so we had to work tonight. Excited to get started we drove toward one house who claimed to have some low lying palms we could ravage.

A mile from my house the storm broke over head and the wind pushed from the south. Push so hard that rain would enter Jon’s window and hit me driving, but if my window was open I didn’t get wet at all, save the splash from the passing vehicles. We got to the house that claimed to have trees and saw none, so we pulled up to a neighbor’s house, asked them if we could trim their tree in the thunder storm and got to it. Unfortunately I hadn’t brought all my tools. Expecting a saw to do the trick nicely we hacked and hacked at the dry leaves hanging down from the tree and soon resorted to simply breaking them off while trying to avoid the piercing thorns from the branches. The storm grew more fierce with every minute and soon Jon and I were standing at the back of my car under the tail gate waiting it out until we finally said “Fuck It!” and grabbed our tools threw them into the wagon and drove away with a handful of dry palm leaves in the back.

Though the car smelled like dates, the windows were fogged and I couldn’t see anything. After driving through the residential streets for some time without any ability to see where I was going besides light and dark spots I stopped to clean the window. To my amazement I had stopped at the stop sign denoting the major busy cross street. I marked that into my lucky book right next to not getting struck by lightening minutes earlier while standing atop a ladder waving a 10 foot tall tree trimming pole.

Jon and I retreated back to the house feeling half defeated. Tomorrow we’d be gone and the project would have to wait.

At this point I had also received a replacement camera so I could start taking gigs upon gigs of pictures of the work. This time they are not so fancy.

No Progress

June 1st, Asa and I spent some time trying to figure out how to fasten the cross pieces for the roof. We bought wood and sealed it. Then after a few hours of experimental tests we gave up and went swimming at Wills. Tomorrow we’d leave for the Grand Canyon and then California. I’d be out of town for the following two and a half weeks. The palapa build would be on hold.