"It's getting real"
Things are happening, but we'll get to that in a bit.
Ron and I were just up to the property two weeks earlier. We had met with the "stair guy" and found the tree work had been started. The larger group had missed an expected trip the weekend after Memorial Day due to flooding at some of our homes which caused us to cancel. This was our backup date and fortunately we had dry weather..... although dry is a relative term.
We started the day early on Friday, departing before 6:00 AM. We were leaving early to get to the property before Dave just to mess with him, as he likes to be the first one there in order to pick out "his spot", kind of like Sheldon on Big Bang Theory. "That's my spot" is what Dave says by getting there first and getting set up before everyone. It's all cool... but just fun to mess with him a bit.
So after getting to Freeport and stopping to get some breakfast at DD, we hit the road. And we are not even a mile into leaving DD and who should we see right in front of us? Yep, Dave. After some opposing ideas on how to avoid the detours on 81, Dave took the posted detour. But Ron and I had found a better detour a few weeks before, so we went that direction leaving Dave thinking we had missed our turn and he, as a result, would be far in the lead towards getting "his spot". We were somewhere close to Mount Horeb when who do we see coming up behind us? Yep, Dave. Dave who thought he was way out in front of us, only to be in amazement at how we could possibly be in front of him, pulling the pop-up with the kayaks strapped to the top.
In any case..... we just had some good old laughs about that one at the campfire that night. But let's move on as I've probably dedicated more time to this than you really want to read about.
We went through some pretty intense storms on the way up, but arrived at the property around 10:00 to find a slippery, muddy hill to climb at the entrance to the driveway. The "tree guy" tore it up and restored it pretty well, but we knew that going into it and it would have been fine if not for the 2+ inches of rain the night before and that morning. But we made it up, slipping and sliding all of the way. We encountered a few substantial puddles and what I can only describe as a small pond near where we normally set up the CWD trailer.
But we were excited as we arrived. The clearing for the pavilion was perfect. We had envisioned what this would look like regarding sunlight and solar power, and were quite pleased that it exceeded our expectations. We'll have direct sunlight for our solar panels for much of the day, and it was quite apparent where the pavilion will need to be located.
After setting up tents and the pop-up (yes, Dave got "his spot") along with getting the CWD trailer in place, we started cleaning up and burning. It is a very rare occurrence that we can burn brush; it is just too dry and the risk of starting a forest fire means keeping fires in check which typically means we amass brush piles. But here we had a new clearing with much space, so after a bit of raking we had quite a patch of bare ground and everything still wet from the mornings' dumping of water.
John arrived about an hour after the other three of us, so he jumped in and helped us focus on cleaning up the new clearing. We burned a lot of brush.
We met with "the stair guy" mid-afternoon, and got into that next level of detail on what we wanted and what was practical for him to build. But it was a good meeting and we have a pretty good idea on what we will end up with. I, of course, let Ron lead most of this discussion.
Bryan showed up around 4:00 PM and went to work on the lighting in the nicest outhouse in the State of Wisconsin. I had installed some LED strip lighting that worked off of a small 12V battery and had a remote control to turn the lights on and off along with setting the brightness level, but after one year of working the remote just stopped working.... so no lights. We want to take on our first solar project by putting a small solar panel on the outhouse to charge the battery, but this first pass was to just get the lights working again with a switch. But even better than that, Bryan installed a switch AND got the remote control working again, which was a bonus because if we can get by with a dimmer setting, we save power from the battery. And in the end, the dimmest setting, in most cases, is all anyone would need in there versus it glowing like a UFO.
Dave took on supper duties.... brats boiled in a beer and onion brew before some cooking on the fire, his "potato concoction" that were probably some of the best potatoes I have ever had, and of course baked beans. I can't quite describe how good that meal was.... all I can really say is that I was happy Bryan got the lights working in the outhouse... not for me but for everyone else.
The nighttime consisted of just the normal ripping on each other and having some laughs. We were probably all in our beds by 11:00 PM... what a bunch of old guys.
I was awakened by my phone alarm that I forgot to turn off the prior morning. Yep, 4:45 and I am awake. But I just love mornings at the property. It is extremely quiet except for the sounds of the water and the birds starting to awaken. Often I see deer at the bend of the driveway as they cross following one of the normal game trails running through the property. It is a good time to get fire going again from the embers and just chill and enjoy being in the moment.
It wasn't long before everyone was awake except for the guy that had breakfast duties. But we let him sleep awhile before harassing him awake. As Bryan cooked up an awesome breakfast of bacon, eggs and hash browns mixed with the leftover Dave potatoes from the night before, I went and did some weed-whacking around the nicest outhouse in Wisconsin and some cleaning of said outhouse. We also have spiders enjoying that outhouse, so I sprayed some Miss Muffet's Revenge Spider Control to resolve that issue. Nobody wants spiders in the outhouse they are using and this is an environmentally-friendly method to control this issue. But Bryan did not disappoint with breakfast, and did a superb job of getting us fed.
After breakfast, it was time to cut some trees near the propose stairway. We identified some trees and branches that needed to be cleared when we met with "the stair guy". Ron took charge with the chain saw and we ended up with quite a bit of brush.... just what we needed when we were trying to get rid of our brush. But, once again, the ground was adequately moist and there was no wind, so we continued to haul brush to burn and logs to go in the firewood stack. After about an hour-and-one-half we were hot, sweaty, and done except for some of the brush that would still need to be burned.
Time to paddle. The Black River was running over 1,000 CFS at the powerhouse, way too high to safely paddle. But when the Black is high, the creeks, many times, are running just about perfect, as was the case with Hall's Creek. But I will post a separate blog post on the actual kayak trip; see next post for that detail.
Four hours of paddling, a rolled kayak with boulder bruises left me personally tapped out. But I could tell I was not the only one. Ron was on for supper, and he had a group of very hungry peeps since we did not have a lunch so we could get on the water sooner. Some of his deer meats, some smoked pork that his wonderful wife, Ms. Ron, season-rubbed to perfection. Leftover beans and a few other munchies, and quite the excellent dinner. We eat very well when we camp and work.
I checked the weather for the morning and saw we were supposed to get thunderstorms in the morning, so we had to get busy getting things ready for departure... no rest for the weary. There is nothing worse than taking down camp in the rain, and if I didn't get after it in the evening then everyone would not leave until things were picked up. By the time we were done, I was on my last leg. Up to the campground in Hatfield for a hot shower (I would have preferred a cold shower as I was severely overheated) made me feel like a new person. Back to the property for some campfire discussions, but it wasn't long before everyone drifted off to get some sleep.
I slept excellent that night.
Up the next morning, and everyone was on the road by 7:30 AM to head for home; much earlier than we expected, but it did get everyone back to their homes sooner.
An excellent trip with much progress made on many fronts. It's getting real.
**"It's getting real" was Bryan's comment to Dave when seeing the pavilion clearing and understanding we are close to having stairs. Sometimes when talk turns to action, the vision starts to take shape and present itself.
Here is a video John put together from his drone footage, showing the new clearing for the pavilion and the path to the stairs:
(I am going to plug his business here.)