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Another Stair Guy

Traveled to property with Ron, an old friend. There was a triple purpose of this trip, with the primary being to meet with another stair contractor. I also knew from a trip Dave had made a few weeks ago that we had an uprooted pine tree laying across the driveway between the outhouse and the clearing.

Dave and I had met with Bob, "the tree guy", when we traveled up in April. It has been a goofy year of weather, and I knew Bob had to wait for some clear weather to let things dry out before he could come in and take out our dead oak trees and a few others to make way for the pavilion. I had talked with Bob the prior week and he assured me that he would begin this week, but I did not hold out hope. However, I was pleasantly surprised to arrive and see he had started near the road and worked his way up to the split in the driveway. Of course, he did not know we were coming up, so we arrived to a driveway blocked by trees he had taken down. Fortunately, we just had to do a bit of cutting and moving in order to have a path through the "mess".

Since Bob "the tree guy" started at the road, he had not made it back to the uprooted tree. So once Ron and I could get up the driveway, we did some cutting to clear a path so we could get back to the clearing.

We hauled the pop-up camper for this trip and set it up right away. The Clearwater Dells trailer is already up there, so we re positioned it back to the camp site.

Shortly after, we met with Dan Schnabel (Schnabel Carpentry) to take a look at the stairway we want to install.

Let me just state something about our business partners. I need help to launch this venture, and much of that help is contracted work. I look for people I can have an extended relationship with, because I will need them for my future success. With the stairway, I have met with a contractor that was bidding an extremely high number, which I am not necessarily against. But I need to be sure I am getting what we need for what we are paying, and I need to be sure we are protecting our land and water to the best of our ability. This contractor wanted to use something called Diamond Piers. Diamond Piers look really interesting, but they have 2" diameter pins driven by a jackhammer into the soil. In my mind, driving 2" pins into sandstone will do nothing but fracture and destroy the beautiful rock outcroppings surrounding the location of the stairway. In the end, I just did not "click" with this contractor, and I need to "click" with my contract work. These are long-term relationships to us, and they need to work. I have also worked with other contractors who state they want to do the work, but then don't supply a bid or schedule when requested.

Back to Dan Schnabel..... I clicked with him. Ron is also a contractor, and it was cool to see those two guys brain-storming on solutions to the stairway challenge. In any case, it was a very good meeting, and we'll see what Dan comes up with.

I then wanted to take Ron around the area, so we took off to check out Hall's Creek at Garage Road and up at Trow Lake. We also checked out Oakwood Lake (in Merrillan) and then dropped down to BRF for the best pizza in the world at Rozario's. After some fine food, we went to the Hall's Creek Canoe Landing at the Black River, and then checked out Brickhouse Road Canoe Landing, the Paddy's Drop granite boulders, and Paddy's Landing all on the Black River. We then went up to Powerhouse Landing. They were making power, so Powerhouse Rapids were pretty tame, even though the Black was running at around 720 CFS. We ran the Black last summer when it was running around 320 CFS and I would have considered the 320 "high". But after seeing Paddy's Drop at 720-ish, I would not be concerned at running it at 720, although making a judgement on one drop you see is probably not the wisest idea, and erring towards caution is probably a good idea.

I did throw a line at the Powerhouse and caught a small smallmouth bass.

We then came back to the property to start a fire and enjoy some beers. Our mowers (David and Jeff) were there mowing for my neighbor (Nick), so of course we had to stop to talk with them a bit. As I stated, these relationships are important. These are not just guys doing mowing for me; they are guys we have built a relationship with, and you continually build those relationships by talking with them whenever you can.

We went over to see Nick and Maddox for a bit, and then came back just in time to start a fire and get it going before the rain started.

Starting fire...... I always try to have little fun things to do that a person would not normally do. Starting fire is one of those things. I always challenge someone new to try to start fire without matches or lighter. A combination of flint/magnesium/dryer lint is usually the easy way to start, but I also like to show char-cloth and char-wood as good ways to start fire when you can generate a spark. Well, Ron started our fire with lint.

Ron really seemed to like the char-cloth and char-wood, so it did not take long for him to start making his own batch of char-wood. Three or four batches later, and he had a pretty good mess of char-wood to take home with him to show others his newly-acquired skills.

This is all small stuff, but it just adds to the experience of "being there". Introduce people to things they have not done before, and they learn something to teach someone else. Ron is the outdoors type; hunting, fishing, camping, etc. In fact, Ron used to competitively race canoes and won nationals with his brother in the late '70s. But now he also knows how to start fire..... glad I was able to introduce him to something he didn't already know because the chances of that are slim.

A good nights' sleep in the pop-up and my excellent breakfast burritos and coffee and we were ready to start the day. I had considered a short paddle to the canoe landing, but the effort was not worth the time for a one-half-hour trip. Only having one vehicle limits things a bit.

After packing things up for departure, I took Ron over to Oxbow Pond. I threw a line and had a decent trout on but lost him. A few casts later and I caught a small brook trout. The trout were definitely hitting on this morning, but after I caught my fish it was time to move on. We were able to check out Morrison Creek at Oxbow also.

We traveled back to the Black River at County Road K to check out the rapids downstream, but since they were producing power they were diverting water down the millrace and the rapids looked very run-able. We were also able to check out the put-in at County Road K, a steep hike upstream-river-left of the bridge, but a nice little landing area that would make access to your kayak reasonable.

After showers and gas, it was grabbing the pop-up from the property and heading back for home.

A very successful trip with an old friend. Just because we live a ways away from each other now, every time we get together it is like it was yesterday when we last saw each other.

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