Monthly Archives: May 2007

Say Yah to da UP, eh?

On Saturday we packed up and drove straight for the bridge. That would be the only important bridge in Michigan, the one that separates the Upper Peninsula from Greater Michigan, and da Yoopers from da Trolls. We had reservations for 2 weeks of rustic bliss in a cabin just northwest of Marquette. On the cold days, like the one when we arrived, the wood burning stove was wonderful, and on the hot ones the outdoor fire pit and the tripod were great. The cabin had two bunk beds, a picnic table, a porch that overlooked a sharp bend in Harlow creek, and was about a quarter mile from any roads. That also meant a quarter mile from our car, where all the stuff we brought happened to be. Once we moved in, we rarely needed to be anywhere else. The woodshed was well stocked, there was a vault toilet to avoid, and a very nice front porch facing the creek.

Can I just put my house here?

The woods were a mixture of oak, red and mountain maple, white pine, balsam fir, and birch. The kids found all sorts of raw materials to play with, from tubes of birch bark to use as armor, to maple switches to use for whip bows. Once it warmed up, they we in the creek swimming, catching frogs, skipping stones, playing in the sand, and bathing.

Only 20 degrees colder than our lake...

We made several trips to to Lake Superior while the air was warm, but the water was frigid enough to discourage anything more that wading, which itself was rather excruciating.

Notice all the water-play?

As the weather cooled again, we went on long hiking excursions to nearby outlooks and “mountains” where we beheld some breathtaking views, and herded the kids away from precarious edges.

STAY THERE! (says mom)

The rustic experience really allowed us to appreciate many of the everyday conveniences that we do not think much about… like plumbing, electricity, and running water. At the same time, we have a renewed understanding of the amount of work involved to live like most of the world lives. Even that setting was not quite as rustic as it might seem. There was a vault toilet, someone else collected, seasoned, cut, split, and stocked the wood, the creek was close enough to bathe in, and the cabin was already built and weather-sealed. Still pretty posh, really. The water pump was a little way from the cabin and we had to haul water a few times a day. It did not taste so good, and we had to boil it before using it. We enjoyed it all because it was a choice, and we knew it would not be for very long. We were dirty much of the time.

Although we reserved the cabin for 2 weeks, after one and a half we decided that we had our fill and that this was not an endurance test, but a vacation. Plus, it looked likely that we would run out of coffee… So we packed up, and drove home. The rest of the vacation time will be spend relaxing in our current (but not future) home by the lake.

In the evenings we read Little House in the big Woods to the kids, and B and I read some of the other books we brought. I especially enjoyed Watch with Me by Wendell Berry. It is a set of tales set in Port William and focused on the character of Ptolemy Proudfoot. We read some of those aloud too. Very fun. In the mornings I brewed coffee (via moka pot) that we enjoyed on the porch before we started on breakfast.

Favorite time of day

Many photos are now up, have a look, eh?:

Little Presque Isle

Off grid

For the next few weeks we will eschew modern conveniences and may be devoured by black flies, or bears.

We did make a library run and I picked up several of Wendell Berry and Terry Pratchett’s novels, along with Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited. I would love to say that I will tell you what I think of them, but realistically, this is the last I will probably mention it. I am a little more excited by the prospect of a warm wood stove, clear cold nights, long empty days, a tinkling creek nearby, lazy meals cooked over an open fire, slow walks through shady woods, and a wide world to watch.

We might turn our phones on briefly to check messages every once in a while… maybe…

Le scoop

We found a house! But then, due to a odd confluence of events, our bid was canceled. Oh, and the house we are living in has been sold, and we will be out by the 15th of June… Yes, a bit sad and a little more scary, but it is not like we have not done this type of thing before.

So, the house that got away? It was a HUD house (Housing and Urban Development – US Gov.) that was being managed by a law firm. That law firm was transferring responsibility to a new law firm on the 15th, so all accepted bid *must* be under contract by that time or be canceled. Well… our agent is a real nice lady, and is not too pushy, and is nice to be around. Unfortunately, those traits that make her an enjoyable person do not translate into being a good real estate agent. The bids were chronically late (but accepted anyway), and when it came down to filling out the forms to the government agency’s (and law firm’s) liking, she just didn’t cut it. So, the bidding starts over. The problem is, the new firm has not provided a way to make bids yet. They have also added additional hoops for agents to jump through. So we will go on vacation, and see where things are when we get back. It is likely to still be available, so we can just pick up where we let off.

Yes, there was some wailing, and even some gnashing of teeth.

The folks who are buying this house (from what the Realtor tells us) are a young Christian family. They home school their 2 girls (8 and 12). That makes us happy.

New! Expresso!

Normally I don’t buy new things. Goodwill, St. Vincent du Paul, and eBay are our primary suppliers for most non-food goods. Our first coffee maker here was a hand-me-down from B’s parents, but we bought another at a garage sale for $2.50. Sure it needed a bungie to keep the basket in place, but it still worked fine for a while. Eventually that one quit (problem with the electronics) and I did some research into good drip coffee makers. The Presto Scandinavian Design coffee maker had great reviews for a cheap model, looked nice, and could be found on eBay for less than $40. So we ordered a used one. It did make great coffee, but it also quit (problem with the electronics). So, I again found myself faced with looking for another coffee maker. Presto is not making that model any longer, and any that I can find for sale online are going for ~$80. Nah. So I looked at espresso makers. Too expensive for all the upkeep. What I really wanted was a coffee maker that did not have those faulty electronics…

The

So I bought a brand new Bialetti Moka Express pot. It does not need electricity, it makes a nice smooth espresso, can be easily used while traveling/camping, and is not likely to fail for a long long time. Why new? No one was getting rid of them on eBay for cheap.

Now I just need a turkish hand grinder and I will be all set.

The chase begins

So we were hunting, and after offers on 2 other houses, we made one that stuck. We found a place that is 3 miles from work, on 6 acres, with a 1700 sq. foot (manufactured) house w/ 3 bedrooms. It also has a 1400 sq. foot pole barn that has one half finished (wired, insulated, etc.) We are excited! Our closing date is the 18th of June.

As anyone knows who has bought house, this is just the beginning of a long tiring process. We are thankful for the two week reprieve we will be taking in the UP (Upper Peninsula). Then, back to chasing papers, packing, flipping out, and finally, more work. It will be rewarding in the end, but it still seems a little ways off.

Round and round the rugged rock…

This little guy was running laps around the perimeter of the yo-yo, taking an occasional break to catch his breath. We seriously watched him run 10 laps, but that was 10 minutes after first noticing that he was making his way around the toy. He did maybe 30-40 total before getting tired and heading for the grass…

Why would we ever want a TV?