Saturday, January 5, 2013

Ice Castle in Nevada

Dad, did I mention we accidentally packed a sprinkler head in one of the walls.
Hope you won't need it until spring! 

Went home to Elko, NV this year for Christmas.  We had to drive from Salt Lake City to Elko, NV. 

We were lucky in my opinion (cursed in my wife's opinion) that we got about a foot of snow.  I love when we get cold weather with snow.  Snow has all the fun parts of being cold!  
So I had to decide what we could create! Four years ago we made a 14 foot tall snowman.  But we had a lot of taller in-laws that year that could help lift giant snowballs.  
This year we mostly had a lot of short people.  Little Elwoods are good for smaller labor tasks like packing snow in Mom's laundry buckets to produce bricks for a snow-fort!

We began construction on the Wednesday after Christmas.  I was the boss and ordered everyone around, although you can see I am actually helping here!  
The snow was perfect for packing!  It was incredibly fast to create the bricks. 

Even the young generation helped out!
After setting up the outer wall, we decided to attempt an arch. 

Got the first block up on the wall and kinked over.  
Kinked over a couple more times and added a capstone to hold it all together.
It was great to have such a huge task force!  Came in handy for situations like this where two people had to hold it up while everyone else packed in support!

There was always 4-5 people working on it all day!
Please hurry with that packing snow Trent!

We raised up the walls on either side of the archway to help support the archway. It seems to be holding fine.  Good thing, this was our first archway we've ever made and we were making it up as we went along!

The arch holds up it's own weight! Success!

By the end of a five hour day we had finished the rest of the walls and added a second arched window to the front.  The colder it got the worse the snow would pack until we had to give up and go in.  We had to hope the next day would be like the first.  We went inside and drank some hot chocolate.

Thursday morning, the snow did not want to pack as well, but we were still able to add some serious embellishments to the fort. People needed some convincing to continue to work on the for the next day.  I think I had to say things like:

"Do you want to have the 2nd best snow fort in all the land...or the BEST snow fort in all the land?!"

 Which seemed to work...
My nieces helped out by carving a cat door for the family cat ! 
With Spoons! 
It took them quite a while.
We had built a basic lion shape that had frozen overnight.  
My artsy sister took over this project.  We had him guarding the main entrance. 

The snow would not pack anymore so we had to use buckets with some water to make a slushy mess that would stick to the icy-hard snow.

It was time consuming and a pretty big pain. 

We never completely finished the lion.
My good friend Eric came over and helped us with the spires since he was the tallest among us. 

We also decided to add some bars to the windows
Here you can see through one side window and out the other. 
We did the same pattern for the front archway. 

We also finished up the front turrets.

Here's what it looked like in the interior.  Nobodies going to scale this fort wall!
Except the cat.  The cat doesn't seem to have a problem with risking cold spikey death. 

At some point a newspaper photographer came by and took a picture for the paper.
There was some pretty nice sunlight coming through the icicles late in the day.

On Friday morning we were on the front page of the Elko paper.  We had a lot of people drive up, take pictures of it or even themselves in front of it.  One lady even said "You're the talk of the town!" which goes to show you there just isn't a lot going on in my home town!  Other than some basic icicle repair we barely got to work on it at all that day.  We had other family sister Carrie was getting married or something...

For some reason on the Saturday most people just wanted to stay inside and drink hot-chocolate. But my dad asked me to knock down the rest of the icicles if I was not going to use them, because they were getting too long and dangerous.  
I really didn't have the heart to do that so I carefully broke them down one by one with the help of my sister Katie!  Luckily there was a huge amount of packing material to keep them safe before transport to the front yard! 
Then we stuck icicles in as many places as possible on the fort walls.  

Though by now, the fort was rather rock hard and we really had to drill holes to get the icicles in place. 

We added horizontal bars between the turrets, and spikes on top of each one as well. We also replaced a lot of them that had melted the day before. 
By the time we had to give up it was pretty awesome.  It was unfortunate that it stayed so cold that we could not do much more structural work.  We had enough room to make it bigger...   
But because it was so cold we were able to get a lot of detail work in it's place. 
 It was awesome and next time I go Elko I'll be prepared for something bigger.  I'm thinking giant step pyramid...  or a huge snow Jabba the Hutt.

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