Well, as I noted in the last post we are down to just the small chainsaw. That means these last few work days we haven’t been milling, but more just preparing for milling on the next build trip. We’ve been cutting down trees and bucking them into logs cut to the length we need. My dad, for reasons due mostly to boredom, wrote a poem noting our progress:

Eight trees on the ground
Waiting for a chainsaw to be found
Cut into logs, big and small
22 is the number, I recall
Rolled into place, waiting for rails
Some are heads, others tails
When someone gets here with a mill
I’m sure they’ll be waiting still

Gary Stous
The bridge tree from last post, now ready to be cut into rafters and wall studs

Yesterday, however, we have had an exciting change of pace as we began the last stage of the trip: the supply shuttles!

People started piling in from every village, at one point my dad counted 300 people milling about our camp! It was early still when when we heard the distant thudding to the chopper.

You can hear the chopper about five minutes before it arrives

The pilot, Mike, tested out our new chopper pad and dumped off the first load

The pad wasn’t very flat, we had to fix it later last evening

Only 40 minutes later he was back, he simply dropped off a load and flew away without touching down

He’d land every few loads to collect his nets and deliver internal cargo

The Kovol people were super helpful. I hardly had to lift a thing, l mostly just directed the show

Everyone getting involved

One bit of cargo they found especially interesting was the wheelbarrow. The older, more distinguished, guys took turns driving it around, not letting the younger guys touch it

Slow and steady

Then I took over and showed them how to use it

Fast and intent on running over children

Eventually the rain moved in and ended the day’s shuttles. We had planned on completing 5 shuttles that day but Mike was able to bring 9!

The rain was actually kind of helpful because it allowed us to test our new water collection station

Now with tin roof and dueling gutters
Our tent getting cramped

Today was much the same until we just kind of…finished!

Closing up our the tent for our absence

We had planned on three days of shuttles but we had moved all the cargo after only two, and so, a day early we, came down to join Steve on the logging road.

This is where Steve and Craig Noyes have been camping out the past two days

Meanwhile, Mike had an alluring suggestion. Our original plan was to take the truck back to Madang and fly by plane to Goroka on Friday. Instead, we could send his nets and straps on the the truck (with Craig who lives in Madang) and they could wait for Friday’s plane, while we took the chopper back today! And so, two days early, we’re home!

Going out to eat tonight with Grandpa Gary

What’s next? In a little over two weeks we will start our first building trip. This time we will come with builders and see how far we get with the houses (of course, there will be milling on that trip as well). There’s a lot of other logistics involved, but that’s the gist of it.

Categories: EnglishStous


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