And the road goes on forever...

Monday, May 16, 2022

We’re Camping Finally!


Weather after weather delay kept happening to keep us from our Northwoods paradise but we finally managed to arrive around noon on April 28th.  The first day was for setup and drinking in our views and all the possibilities. 

We set to work in the cold under cloudy skies most days, with the first order of business being to figure some layouts as we started the gargantuan task of clearing. At first, I had it in mind that I wanted the additional screening of the deadfall and broken branches as screening, not that we show up that much from the road. Even though we’ll have a stout locking gate, I’d like to be as hidden as possible going on the premise that “out of sight is out of mind” when it comes to anything of a nefarious nature.

It was burn season when we started clearing so we’d pull the trailer to various areas and proceed to pick up sticks to fill it, then haul it to where we established a burn pile. We maintained the same fire each morning early from the previous coals, for five continuous days. Quite suddenly, weather turned unseasonably warm, so they shut off burning. By then, we were about worked to death from the constant stoop-over, pick up, and haul mode we were putting our bodies through (I say we but it was mostly me!) so we figured we would make piles and later rent a chipper.

Daily I work on making piles, as Marc gets more brazen about cutting bigger and bigger trees. He used to cut lots of firewood back in the day when he was much younger and agile but now, he takes his time. However, sometimes the trees don’t fall as he wants or much more likely, get hung up on their way down since the forest is so thick here. One particularly large pine required some advance planning as he figured out to ensure it fell the way he wanted. He decided to put a chain and rope tight strain on it using the truck. It worked!


We’re making lots of firewood out of all these trees. It will need to season for a year but Marc set up a woodcutting “station” where he spends much time slicing and dicing things into 16-inch chunks.

Somewhere along the line I went from wanting to leave a natural look to liking the cleaned up, parked out look. As you can see in these before and after photos, it makes a huge difference in being able to actually use and get around on the property, plus mitigates fire danger, I’m sure.

In between all the woodcutting activity, we laid out the location of the garage, 24’x30’. We changed course a couple months back and decided to scale back this project from a large shop and fulltime house to just a stand-alone garage, a boat/storage shed, RV shed, and a 748 one-bedroom cabin with a 300 s.f. screened porch.

There were various reasons for our new decision. Obviously, cost is the overriding factor but also coming into play was the harshness of the winters here and the lack of shopping. In Waupaca, which sits on a major four lane state highway, either Stevens Point or Appleton is easily reached in winter with excellent maintenance of snow removal. Here, our major shopping is an hour away over two-lane highway often left to turn to packed ice in winter. We’re loving the remoteness in summer but how would we do with it in a long winter?

Making things smaller in size will also be much easier on us in terms of building. We are finding skilled labor in short supply here (one well guy we called is already fully booked for the entire year) so we suspect that it will fall to the two of us to do much of the manual labor. House systems can also be less costly, for instance, no need for an expensive propane HVAC system with all its sheet metal runs. We can use a wood stove as primary heat with baseboard electric or Cadet room heaters, saving thousands. The kitchen will be smaller, with a peninsula instead of a costly island. There will be very few interior doors (we like to use solid wood doors); again, cutting way down on cost.

We’re informed that getting power into the lot is still about three weeks away; a well can happen sometime in June, and fiber optic cable around three weeks. Septic is a questionable timeline. Camp life without utilities is a bit harder as you extended boondockers know. But each and every day I awake amazed that we own such a stellar piece of property. The property is large enough that just walking through it leaves one with nuances of difference. Areas with thicker trees, areas with towering cathedral of trees, different elevations, flora and tree species. We’re watching Spring arrive as trees bud out with their leaves. There is a special tranquility to the place that no place has ever touched me like this. I can sit and watch the lake for hours. I simply love it and it’s a wonderful thing to be able to shape it into what we want it to be, to enjoy for as long as we can.