Sept 28, 2008

I started this backyard cave project on Oct 6, 2007. So it is near the 1 year anniversary now. So this page is sort of a look at where things are now and how it is going.

I have probably averaged a bit over one trip into the cave per week and about 1.5 hours each time. I have lost about 10 pounds this year, while most years I have gained weight. I still find this exercise program much more satisfying than others I have tried. I have basically stopped finding human artifacts (after about 50) after I got a foot down in the dirt. The cave goes about 10 feet further and is much more open and easy to pass through. Still having fun and expect to keep working at it.

One Year Anniversary

I move the bigger rocks to the background area and take away the dirt and smaller rocks. This is about 5 days of dirt removal. It is now time to take the dirt/small-rocks away with the backhoe. I used to sift the dirt but I stopped finding artifacts and so stopped sifting. On this limestone island there is not a lot of dirt, so it is good that I am getting lots of dirt from the cave. Mostly I am using it to fill different gaps in rocks around the yard and then planting trees in these spots.

I have 3 lights and a fan in use whenever I am in the cave. You can see one light just to the right of Ethan's head and then two other lights further down. The far one on the right is the same 11 watt 700 lumen LED light for $25 as the close one. I really like these lights. They are tough, bright, and use very little power. The 3rd light is also LED but is not as bright and cost much more.

The spot where Ethan is in the pictures above and below was a couple feet under dirt when I started. Now the cave extends about another 10 feet back.

This is me in the lower part of the cave. I can sit up where my feet are and also to the left of where I am now a couple feet. Those are my two current dig positions. My 11 planter buckets are beyond me. On a good day I can fill all of these and hall the dirt/rocks out in 1.5 hours.

This is looking back out from where I operate my cave tram.

Ethan is sitting where I operate my cave tram from.

My workout is to first dig the rocks/dirt and fill buckets, then lift them to the ledge where I work the tram, then I move up there and dump them into the tram and work the tram. The 1-foot foam squares are for sitting on. This whole area was filled with dirt when I started.

There is a little pocket under the ledge. There is solid rock behind this.

This is the view down the original "drain" area. I have ended up digging to the left of this. There is a major crack in the rock that the cave seems to be following and that is left of here.

In September we had a few tropical storms go nearby and give us some rain. You can see where water washed through and eroded some of the loose dirt.

This is my "cave tram" and it has really worked very well. Sometimes the rope gets to the side of the top pulley but if I go backwards a couple inches it gets in the grove again and I am fine.

Another view from where I sit to work the tram.

The solar panel, battery, and inverter have worked out really well. I can operate my 1700 watt jackhammer and break weak or loose rocks very quickly. I tried micro-blasting as well as wedges and feathers, and find the jackhammer much faster for me. I use a Bosch 11245EVS 2-inch SDS-Max Rotary Hammer and am very pleased with it. Makes a very powerful drill and a good cave jackhammer. I use the cave tram to carry it in and out. Seems like I use the jackhammer 1 day and then 3 or 4 days of removing dirt and rocks.

From probing around I don't think I am going to run out of dirt in the next year. Part of this year was just cleaning out the cave so it was safe to dig in the back/bottom of the cave. So sort of I got 10 more feet added on to the cave in the second half of the year. My goal for the next year is 20 more feet of passable cave.