Tipi For My Bunghole

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Kim and I have been debating how to spice up our Leadville land. We had been toying with the idea of building some kind of structure for the kids to play inside of. Wanted something that would work year around. Kind of doubling as a snow fort in the winter and hang out in the summer. I was so close to buying some house looking shed at Home Depot many times. But we kept seeing mini log cabins but just never could price, justify, buy, whatever. Then one day I said, what about a yurt? They are here and there in Colorado. But I had a hunch it would be a ton of dough. And they are! Because they are often used as actual living quarters. That wasn’t going to work. But something else caught our eye when looking through the yurt company catalog…they sell tipis! I am told I have some Indian on my Dad’s side. So let’s explore our heritage with a big ass tipi! They come in many sizes but somehow we settled on a 16′ tipi. That is how its measured from door to rear. 14′ wide across. Ordered!

Panic set in. The tipi was about 6 weeks out but where are we going to put it. I don’t really want it on the dirt. I kind of want to get it up off the ground. Maybe we build a deck. So one night Kim and I researched decks and got a PDF on how to build a 18 x 20′ deck. Time to go shopping! I brought my trailer how and started loading it up with materials to drag the 100 miles up to Leadville. I was hestiant that I could even do this at first so I bought a smattering of the parts needed to try and work through it live.

Deck

Instead of pouring concrete, we went with Dek Blocks. This eased a bit of my fears of the unknown. These can be laid out and moved. Nothing permanent. Just holds once you weight it down. Seemed like a good way for this rookie to build. So I needed 50 deck blocks for the foundation. Here is what load #1 looked like.

Deck

More gear the next week. I was building confidence now. This was actually getting kind of fun. Laying out the blocks was probably the biggest pain. Trying to level them on an uneven surface. We hauled a lot of dirt over and made pads and used a really big level for hours and hours trying to get the bubbles just right everywhere.

Deck

Once those were good, I started throwing the decking on. This was a fun day. Walking on top of it for the first time was kind of cool. It held me up. Duh. But I felt like I created that.

Deck

Had to get the decking in two total loads. Finally got to start attaching it and screwing it all together. It was coming together. Employed the kids to help me with a few of the pieces that took a lot of hands to hold straight.

Deck

Finally, I was decked out! Everybody said it looked like a big dance platform. But few knew what was in store for it next? Why build a deck in the middle of the forest.

Deck

Spent last weekend painting in between rainstorms. I was running out of time! After a delay, the tipi was due to arrive. It had to come freight because of the 20′ long poles. A huge bundle of them. A bunch of other gear and a big canvas. Its go time.

Tipi

I was pretty excited and rather than waiting for help, I dug in. The book said it takes patience. I was anxious. So I followed step by step. I build this V formation between the main 3 poles. You tie them together. Then you just stand it up and kick one of the legs out to form the initial structure. Them Indians were smart.

Tipi

With the poles up, it was time to start measuring. This is the only part where they give you some dimension. The distances between the poles. I was moving leg by leg to center it on the deck into its permanent home. Then you just lay the poles up on top going in a circular fashion. Once done, you just walk around the bottom with rope and tie it all together. At no time do you ever have to get off the ground to do anything. But I keep using my ladder to look up and inspect my work.

Tipi

This next part was the hardest. Putting the canvas on. Basically you attach the canvas in one spot to a single pole and kind of stand it up in the air like a flag and throw it into place. That canvas is really heavy so having in on this pole and trying to basically mimic a pole vault type operation with the canvas was not easy but I got it solo! Then I realized I had the canvas on inside out. Oops. Had to do it again. In the rain. You can’t stop me now.

Tipi

I spent the final hours putting the door on, then bolting the legs to the deck, and then roping the canvas down to stretch it tight like a drum. All in all, its done now. We are short the inner liner that comes down and gives you the final foot of coverage to the floor. That’s more a cold weather feature though. Should be in soon. Now, we just need to finish up the insides a bit. We have a fireplace in there. Putting some rugs inside. Probably some furniture of some sort. I even have the ability to run power out to it so any visiting Indians can charge their iPhones…or get some light at night. I am sure its going to be pimped out soon.

I feel like my summer projects of building have come to a close. Deck. Tipi. Treehouse. Zip line. Just in time. I have to go run next weekend…but after that maybe I can figure out something else to build!