Hidden Bend Retreat, Romney West Virginia

Romney, WV

Sunday, July 24, 2011


What a job, moving a 90 gallon salt water tank and we're still not done. We ended up setting up a 30 gallon tank at the new house to move most of the coral and livestock in to- we've lost a few things but still have a few fish that will make it to the new setup. We finished getting the 90 gallon tank set up yesterday and filled with fresh saltwater. Going to let it run a few days to make sure all is well before we move the fish and the rest of the rock and corals.

Pictures show the two tanks as they sit in the basement and a view in to the aquarium closet where I've set up the Reverse Osmosis unit. Don't have the automatic filler running yet but shouldn't take long to get that going. It's nice having this equipment near the tanks so I don't have to run hoses through the wall as we did in Leesburg. The RO equipment feeds a 30 gallon bucket for salt water and a 20 gallon bucket for fresh water. We use the fresh water for coffee as well.

Donna is talking about setting up the 30 gallon tank upstairs in the family room but that will probably be a project for next years todo list.

Basement Kitchenette/Bath

Work is progressing on the kitchenette and bath we're doing in the basement. Bath is nearly complete, some final painting and trim work to do. Will most likely use rope for some trim as was done in the rest of the house. Notice my helpers as I was taking some pictures. Deago and Jasmine like to be involved.

Kitchen room is done, just using an old workbench to hold the popcorn machine for now. I'm going to make some cabinets to fit the room since it is so narrow. That will have to be a winter project as the workshop is not fit for use, it's mainly a large, storage area at this point but will put this on the todo list which seems to grow each day!

We had some wood siding left over from the house build so used a bit of it in each of the basement rooms, just one wall in each room. We'll leave them the natural color in the bath and kitchenette but stained the log wall black in the theater.

Floors are vinyl tile, we found a local store that has remnants at really good prices, probably less than $100 in the floor material and have some left over to use around the aquarium.


Nearly completed the basement theater, seating arrived last week and look good. Screen is 106", same as the theater we had in Leesburg but the resolution is 1080 instead of 720. BluRay discs look great, color is really bright.

Still have some tweaking to do to get the audio just right. Riser edge needs to be finished, ordered a couple of lights that should come in this week to finish that part of the project. Last steps will be to finish the equipment enclosure and get some doors made- will most likely go with a smoked glass without any frame so the IR remotes will work.

Screen Porch

We were able to get the screened walls installed for the screen porch earlier in the summer. We worked with a company called New Look Services and they did a great job. Tom and Darlene visited us twice, the first time to measure for the windows and the second time to deliver and help with the installation. We are well out of the area they normally work (they are in Lorton, VA) but had been talking with them about this project for a few years at their booths for the various home shows we have attended.

I put in the pressure treated framing for the windows to mount and all came together well. The walls are screened but have a sliding vinyl "window" that allows you to close off the porch completely to the weather- should make it usable for a full three seasons. Their web site to take a look at the product is:


The first two pictures show the porch after the install and the the third one shows some detail for the trim I needed to do in order to enclose the porch against the log walls. A little scribe work, then, cutting the 1"x6 with a jig saw, and finally some caulking to get a tight seal. We had previously put screening under the deck when it was built so hopefully, we'll keep out most of the bugs. I did find a hole that I missed with caulking, it was pointed out by a small (about 15") snake that decided to come inside, we happened to see him on the way in so was able to capture him and send him on his way, you can bet I filled that hole with a lot of wood and caulking as I don't like snakes!

Last picture shows the screened porch from the outside- there is a doggie door in the screen door but haven't got the dogs using this yet- although Jasmine will come in through the door without prompting- she likes to be inside.

More later.

Hidden Bend Observatory Build

Started work on the astronomy observatory yesterday morning before it got too hot. Going to call it the Hidden Bend Observatory. The last picture shows a view from the site down the driveway which curves to the left. Drive is nearly a half mile long and the bend really adds to the privacy although not a lot a traffic up a gravel road that doesn't go anywhere except to our house.

Dug a hole for the concrete footing that will hold the pier and mount for the telescope. Hole is about 3'x3'x32". Intention is to fill the hole with concrete and then have a base where the pier will attach about 2' above the ground. Once this is complete, I'll build a deck around the pier at that level to actually hold the observatory structure.

I'm using an 8' round metal building with a poly dome from a company called Exploradome. Here's a picture of the dome, it comes with the shutter doors assembled and is light enough that two people can put it on top of the metal walls. Deck will be about 10'x10'. For this year, just want to get the dome and scope in place and see how it works during the prime viewing seasons through fall and winter- will add a small shed next to the dome later if the location works out to hold a computer and other equipment for imaging and video.

Here are a few pictures of the site, first one shows the hole (not too impressive, lol) which took over an hour to dig with a 12" backhoe on my tractor. Ground here is shale and really hard to get through it. I figure as long as I'm on stable rock, I'll be okay. The hole/base of the pier needs to be this large to give it enough mass so it doesn't move or vibrate, especially important if you're wanting to do any photography or imaging. I'll show a picture of the pier that I had made by the local metal fabricators in another post.

The next pictures show the views looking east towards the house, then south, then west. Didn't include the north view as much of the lower sky in that direction will be partially blocked by trees. Most of the trees you see will lose their leaves so it will open up a bit. Last shot is the one mentioned above looking back to the road. You can also see a shot of the dome, ready to be mounted at some point later.

Next steps are to get the forms set for the pier base, I bought a small concrete mixer to do the job, will take about 40 bags or so of concrete to fill the base so will be a long day. Then I'll start working on the footers for the deck itself. Check back later for more updates.

Latest Visitor

Well, it's been way too long since we added anything to the blog, we've been busy! We sold our house in Leesburg in only about 6 weeks so that was great news. The sale closed on June 30 so we have only one house now, here in Romney. Donna and I moved ourselves, about 5 loads in a Uhaul and then too many loads to count with the pickup, car, and trailer- we have way too much stuff but we're slowly working through it. A shame to have moved it here only to throw it out or give it away but that's the way it worked out.

We're having some really hot weather so most of our work has been inside. We're enjoying some of the wildlife but will enjoy it more when the weather cools and we can spend more time outside. This picture is of a baby deer that has been hanging around for about 3 weeks. Not a great shot, but you get the idea.

There is actually a second baby deer with this one, no sign of the mother and unusual we're told for them to stay so close to the house. We've actually been within about 5 feet of them, coming across them laying down in the grass while we're on a walk, the dogs scare them away and we think they've moved on for good, then see them a day or two later. One of them has been under the front deck, Donna was looking out the window about 8:45 pm one evening and a fox walked through the front yard, then a couple of minutes later, the baby deer came out from under the deck- don't think they even saw each other.

We've seen plenty of hawks, lizards, and other small critters- our neighbor killed a Timber Rattlesnake a few weeks ago in their yard. They are usually at a higher elevation but not totally unheard of in the area.

Watch for more posts showing some pictures of the theater which is nearly complete and I'm just starting work on the observatory to have it in place in time for fall.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Basement Work Continues

Slow progress on the house in WV, spending a LOT of time in Leesburg getting the house there ready to sell. We had a home inspection and I've taken care of most of the items we found there but plenty of packing, painting, and general fix up going on.

Have made some progress in the basement. Drywall is up in the theater and kitchenette and half completed in the bath. I've done some of the plaster work but still more to do. We're still trying to decide what wall covering to use in the rooms. We did decide to use some of the log siding we had left over in the rooms to carry the log house theme to the basement, think the accent walls will look good when we're done.

First picture shows the riser and back wall of the theater with the wood siding. There will be seating in front of the wall so won't be overwhelming to the room. Next picture is looking from the basement in to the bathroom, shows the siding on the one wall. Last picture you can see in to the kitchenette as well with the siding. The wood we used on the ceiling in the bath is also visible. We decided not to use the drop down ceiling in the bath and went with wood- this ceiling is lower because of the duct work and we have wood ceilings in the baths upstairs as well.

We spent the weekend cleaning up the basement and garage as we're planning to start moving furniture and boxes in earnest over the next few weeks. Painters will be working in Leesburg so wanting to get everything cleaned out.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Home Theater Started

We've started work on the basement home theater. Had to put up the framing for the outside walls and build a riser for the back of the room where the second row of seats will be. Plan is for 3 seats ii the front row and 2 in the back. The inside walls for the theater as well as the small kitchen area and bath were completed as part of the original house build.

After the framing was complete, ran all the electric for the 3 rooms along with some speaker wire to the outside walls where the audio equipment will sit. All equipment except for the projector will be in a bay that extends from the theater in to the utility area of the basement. All wiring will be brought there and will have access to the rear of the equipment for the connections. Should also be able to add ventilation to that area to keep the equipment cooler as well.

Projector will be installed on a ceiling mount, just behind the first row of seats and just below the drop down ceiling we'll be installing.

Here are a few pictures of the progress. You can see Deago found the riser a comfortable spot to rest during a break in the work, he likes to be where the action is. Fourth picture shows the opening to the equipment area. The drywall is up on all the walls and has the first coats of plaster. We're still finalizing the final finish for the walls but hope to make more progress in a couple of weeks.

The last picture shows a trial run of the theater. It was sitting on a table in the room and projected on to the drywall, you may recognize a scene from Avatar! Screen size will be 106".

Closet Shelving

Long time since I've posted, a lot of work going in different parts of the house and shop. Here are a couple of pictures of some cedar shelving units we installed in the master bedroom closet. We saw these at the DC area home show earlier in the year, they're made by a company in Kentucky and the pricing was reasonable. Very modular so you have a lot of flexibility but have to really think through what you're going to need and make a plan first. It also helps to remember or keep a copy of your plan after you've ordered the units and waited 6 weeks to install them, lol.