Sugarbush Hula Hoop

How DO you connect eighteen rafter peaks together? Thankfully, we did not have even have to try at the Sugarbush Base Lodge - the architects had asked for a lighting cupola at the peak, leaving us with some sort of hoop to catch the rafter tops. Which is what we built – a wooden hoop. Twenty eight alternating layers of engineered panel strips, glued and screwed to one another made for a sturdy landing spot for the rafters from below and the cupola from above. Each rafter is connected to the hoop with a horizontal bolt which pulls the rafter into a housing in the outer faces of the hoop. A key, at the top of that housing, allowed us to lower rafters into the hoop, when it was hanging in place. This hoop generated its share of discussions. I was unable to sell my vision of nine wiggling rafter tops pointing into space, while two men are lowered into position suspended in the hoop. I envisioned our looking like the basket hung from a hot air balloon, as in Around the World in Eighty Days. This would have made a photo op to die for. Instead, I spent a wonderful afternoon in the life raft-sized hoop, grabbing and connecting rafters as they flew into place. The engineered timber pieces had been inspected and “signed” by the responsible party. So, I spent those great hours with “Brian” embossed on the uppermost piece, a poignant and nearly eerie reminder of my great late friend, Brian Smeltz. I could go on about cutting the number of facets in half, as we passed the mid-diameter ring, too…..

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