When surveying the shell that was La Kiva, we keep asking ourselves, was it really necessary to pull so much down? Each time the answer is definitely yes. Sure, we could have patched up parts but we couldn’t have lived with the uncertainty of how sound the structure really was and all the while dreading the next rain. The roof design itself was a major part of the problem that made leaks inevitable. It was almost impossible to fix without taking the whole thing down. The extent of the rot and termite damage was worse than expected which was surprising in view of the fact that we were expecting a lot to start with. Parts of the structure were in imminent danger of collapse and much of the damage was hidden from view in the roof members or in the walls behind the planking.
We have stabilized most of the structure, though work remains to be done in the cave room where one of the main beams is rotten and termite eaten to the point where it is in danger of collapse. we are going to do a temporary repair that will ensure that is safe and then leave it until later. We have other work that is more pressing.
I must confess that I reached a point in this project of being intensely sad about what we were having to take down. I resented having decisions taken out of our hands and the final blow came when we had to take down the old rest rooms. The plumbing, which had to be brought up to code before we would be permitted to re-open, proved to be beyond repair. Some of the joints were sealed with old trash bags, some pipes went nowhere, some had to drain uphill, some had access panels cut in them with no way to seal the open pipe. Knowing what we know now, it is clear why the plumbing proved troublesome, though it was not clear until we dug everything up. In excavating to fix the plumbing it was brought home just how bad the walls were. Once the internals were revealed, we were left with no choice. We had to take the walls down, completely. The termites and time had done their work well.
The sadness has passed and the glory of the structure has been revealed. I have passed from sadness to elation. We have been compelled to take down parts of La Kiva that we would never have willingly interfered with, nor even contemplated interfering with. Freed from the shackles of those psychological restraints, I have fallen in love with the new La Kiva. I can see and share the vision that Gilbert had more than thirty years ago. Parts of La Kiva that have been hidden from view by the showers and toilets and other parts of the infrastructure since shortly after Gil first assembled those huge, red rocks, have once again been revealed. We have a gift that Gil and Glenn did not have. We were able to go back and have a redo having known La Kiva for most of its life. With the benefit of hindsight the upgrades and repairs are easier for us than they would have been for Gil and Glen. I think that both of them would approve of what we are doing and I hope you will be pleased. In the rebuilding we are not using any wooden walls. We are using cement block, stucco and rock and we are doing that for a reason. If La Kiva is to survive it will stand a better chance if it is made of more durable materials. Wood is not a good choice in the desert environment and thirty three years had ravaged the parts of La Kiva that were wood.
This update was added later. The vigas have arrived and you can see them in the featured image at the top of the blog. The foundation for the new cooler room and utility room for the kitchen are completed and next week (9th of November) we will probably be pouring concrete. The new stone pillars supporting the vigas have been started and it finally feels as though we are making progress.
I intend to have a good and productive week and I hope you can all say the same thing. Our construction crew continue to be great to work with and they are doing all they can to make it possible to open the doors as quickly as possible.