And the road goes on forever...

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Is Summer Winding Down?


A few days ago I got back from it being my turn in Waupaca. It is always a relief to pull back in north—immediately the smells assault my nose, all good. It’s always verdant smelling, piney, woodsy, very earthy, like you’re suddenly immersed in a garden of earthly delights. When the wind is right and waves are splashing below, the air also carries the scent of water. This immediately evokes some primal sense of déjà vu, long past camping trips of youth at high mountain lakes, my time at living by the ocean, so many times of being aboard boats with water splashing against hulls. The sounds of the loons only add to the enjoyment.

The sunny calm mornings here are sheer joy and wonder. I always try and wander down the boardwalk when it is morning’s calm, as it’s like a jewel to hold in one’s palm for the spell of the moment. Usually it doesn’t take long for even a slight wind to kick up across the water and many days become quite breezy. But in those quietest moments I try and anchor and find myself and say my prayer to this moment of being alive and being able to appreciate it all. Does the exact spot where you live give you this? I dare say, I highly doubt it, as the truly special places are so few and far between.

This has me caught up in trying to weigh the forthcoming decisions of how to best use this place. I’ve loved our property in Waupaca, but it’s on an ever-increasingly busy highway with no cover, so I always feel as though I am in a fishbowl when I’m in the yard. Here, as I may have explained, our 15 acres sits on a road that only encompasses our property and the county boat ramp. The other 35 acres contiguous to ours is used, with a pole barn at the highway, as storage and hunting for its owner. He never intends to build there and even if he did, the nearest buildable portion is quite aways and totally invisible to us. We are an island onto ourselves and I am loving that! No one sees our every move, no one can see us at all unless we are at bluff’s edge above the boardwalk waving to the kayakers who pass below. It’s a unique feeling we haven’t had for 30 years when we first moved to and developed our Bend acreage property and had no neighbors. So, yes, this is truly my soul place; will it be enough to just have it for half the year and then have to go away?

Last post I talked about the possibility of having a tiny home and had decided where it could be perfectly placed. I’ve decided that even if we were to build a small cabin, the choice of location is my ideal—it features the best full on view of the lake (with selective felling of some of the trees), and as importantly, it also would look down on the bog. I like that idea as I’ve come to discover lots of life and changes that occur in the vegetation there, the colors, the smells. The location could also allow for a deck to be slightly cantilevered over the edge of the bluff, which I really think would be spectacular.


The concrete contractor took his time getting back with us so we’re hopeful he gets it accomplished next week. Meanwhile, Marc labors at installing the posts in hand-mixed concrete which will anchor the posts for the RV shed. He’s also got one gate pole up and set.

You can literally feel the change in the air lately; some days feel downright fall like. We have one small maple in the bog which has been turning red for two weeks. Some of the poplar tree leaves have turned yellow and begun dropping. The forest floor green has become drier and yellower in spots. Some nights are in the high 40’s. Summer is so short and swift here. We figure we will need to empty out and close down and store the RV by mid-October to prevent water lines from freezing, so time grows short. We hope to complete the gate, the garage shell and the RV shed by then. Ah, to have the energy and agility of our youth—it would be a snap, ha!

We’ll be boating this holiday weekend so I hope to have pictures to follow! Have a nice Labor Day.



Sunday, August 14, 2022

Those Thoughts

There is a truism in real estate valuation which essentially translates to “highest and best use” of any given property. Highest and best use of a property factors in zoning laws and bringing a property to its maximum value by careful consideration of how it should be used and what should be built upon it. You wouldn’t take a 50-acre parcel of cow pasture and maintain it that way in the middle of New York City for instance. 

Our new property is so singular; so beautiful, that truthfully it should sport at least a million-dollar home or even a multi-million-dollar compound to really maximize its value. So, what happens if we leave it as our private campground? We’re in consideration of this…. 

We’ve come to the conclusion rather quickly, that short of selling our Waupaca place we won’t have enough cash to really build another full-blown residence here. (We like being debt free and intend to remain that way!). Based upon what we built in Waupaca in 2014-15 for under $150,000 we thought we could. Ha, more like double that in today’s dollars. It would be much easier if we knew for sure we wanted to live here year-round but that is still an unanswered question. It’s particularly hard for Marc to consider giving up what he’s built in our Waupaca home basement: his man cave, huge office space, and wood working workshop. I understand—to think of having to transport all that heavy stuff back up the stairs and move it 145 miles and set it up in another location is a daunting thought. 

So right now, our best thoughts are for leaving this as a second location we use for maybe six months of the year. We could continue (after building the outbuildings) to just move the RV out of its storage every spring and move back in for the summer and fall. However, this RV (after being spoiled by our 40-foot Travel Supreme) leaves a lot to be desired in terms of long-term living. It’s fine for camping but not something I really want to live in every summer on a permanent basis.

A small cabin is still under consideration but we’ve also moved on to include a couple of other options. I asked Marc one day “would you consider another park model?” Many of you long time readers may recall we bought one in WI and had it shipped to the Oregon coast back in 2008, then later shipped it to our lot in Yuma. I really enjoyed living in it and other than the small bedroom which only had room for a queen bed, found it to be comfortable in terms of space.

More recent park models have far advanced and many now provide bedroom dimensions which allow for a King size bed. Some are even up to 15 foot wide and more squarish in configuration, which make them seem less like a trailer. With these advances however, has also come a tremendous increase in cost, with most pushing the $100,000 and more range. But what isn’t getting expensive, right?

It also seems strange to me that the Midwest and east coast manufacturers seem to be well behind the times in what they offer as opposed to the West coast, which feature more modern advances like drywall, metal roofs, attached front porches and interesting rooflines. Those that are most appealing to me would require cross-country shipping, which surely would add at least ten grand to the price. 

There are several advantages to a park model over a stick built cabin or larger manufactured home for us: namely, the fact that they’re classified as an RV so don’t need any sort of permit to place and they won’t impact or raise our property taxes. Given that WI is a fairly high property tax state, this is huge. It could also always be sold off later on if someone desired building upon this property. Building a small cabin here would be a finality; it would always just be a small cabin residence unless someone added onto it since zoning is only for single family residence.


Another avenue of thought is for us to get busy demolishing the Travel Supreme body and use the frame and axles as a foundation upon which to build a tiny home on wheels totally of our design and desires. Self-building would not require any permits or inspections that we’re aware of and a onetime move permit from DMV would allow us to bring it here with the Freightliner. We would not plan on it moving again. 

Marc said the frame could be extended from its current 8.5 feet to 10, thus giving us a likely 400+ sf on the main floor if we did a couple cantilever bumpouts. Everything would be cathedral ceilings and main floor—we’re not interested in having any loft spaces. This actually holds some appeal since they’ve always been a fascination to me and one could get really creative on a dime, so to speak, and the overall costs would likely be significantly less than purchasing something. There’s never anything wrong with having money “left over” is there? Here again, tiny home advances over those that initially were built 20 years ago are fabulous! Just look at some of these:


(This last photo leaves me positively drooling! Those windows; our lake view!)

A park model makes it much easier on Marc; a tiny home would entail likely another summer of construction for him. It’s a lot to think about and right now I’m torn 50-50 if we elect to consider either of these possibilities. Which would you do?

Friday, August 12, 2022

Work and Play


Picking up where I last left off, this could be a far-ranging post.


Marc continues to work on the boat shed while starting to put together the Versatube RV storage. All that is left is to install a couple of windows in the gable ends and complete that portion of the siding.

The instructions to the RV shed were not very explicit and it is very heavy for him to manage himself (the metal frame portion you see totals about 2000 pounds) so he rigged up a jig on his long flatbed trailer and used the Mule wench to stand them upright. The factory had made a mistake on the dimensions due to fortified trusses for our snow loads so Marc is awaiting new parts to be able to actually get any farther along with that. We did get the post holes dug for it the other day since they will each be anchored in the ground to a depth of about three feet secured by concrete. This baby shouldn’t go anywhere once erected. 

More and more trees continue to come down and we spend much time “processing” the wood. We have cleared out a significant portion of deadfall and standing dead timber. If it’s a large tree, he bucks it up, then I lop off the smaller branches and essentially make two piles, one to burn and one to haul off for my brush fence. The place is looking much better!


We continue to have problems with the neighbor’s dogs running loose onto our property and we often have the cats free roaming outside, since after all, it is our property and they should be safely allowed to do so. After the latest nasty incident with a pit bull treeing Munchkin and the dog having no idea how close to death he came, we are trying to expedite getting up the gate. I now have the brush fence running the entire length of our property line with the boat ramp, so once the gate is up we’re hopeful it mitigates them coming in entirely. After that, we’ll figure they’re fair game.

Mosquitoes continue to plague us: Deet and a couple of solutions:

While the guy was here doing the post holes, we also had him haul in and level the gravel to get the area for the garage prepped. We finally found a contractor who came out and looked at what we wanted in anticipation of giving us a bid for the concrete slab and forms. No word as yet on either bid or time frame for the work.

It’s not all work around here, although most days seem like it! We explored some interconnected in town lakes on a beautiful warm Saturday, where lots of others were out with families and friends doing the same. The lakes are surrounded by homesites but are filled with tiny islands, some of them open to the public, and it never seemed too crowded. Numerous loons were seen, including a mom with two babies. We also finally got out to use our kayaks on our own lake.

( a lot of work to stack those rocks!)

(umbrella great idea!)

Marc & I take turns going to Waupaca because we don’t want to haul the cats back and forth all the time. They do much better with a routine of staying put in one place. Last time I was home I noticed that our old apple tree had many broken branches and was in grave need of help. Marc is home this time so took his chain saw. Our front steps are also coming apart there, as they were built seven years ago as a temporary thing, so those will need replacement once we get home. Right now in the good weather, Marc is working on spraying the laundry room cabinets he built last winter. We will entirely repaint the laundry room this winter.

I’ve more on my mind to tell you about but you’ll have to check in next time for those thoughts! We continue to absolutely love the solace, solitude, and peace this property provides and feel so fortunate to be here! I marvel every single day just how beautiful it is and how it simply feeds my soul to be here.