Where is your "Observer"?
This was our ten-year anniversary reunion. I had invited some guys to come along that had played a role early on in our adventure, but had not been there for a while.
Terry was with me on my first trip after purchasing the property in the fall of 2012, when we had to park at the road and haul in our tents and equipment back to the fire lane to camp. He saw it in its rawest state, before we started any work at all. While we did not do a ton of work on that trip, we did do some GPS work that lead to me proving an incorrect property stake that was left inadvertently. Terry had been there three or four other times, but not in at least five years. Terry was present to help build the outhouse.
Lance was with me on my second working trip in the spring of 2013. We focused on cutting up downed trees and finding a shorter non-life-threatening path to the water. I also got a tick bite on that trip that lead to some Lyme Disease. Lance had also been there three or four times, and had also helped erect the outhouse.
Joel was part of the crew in 2014 that helped establish a foothold in what is now our camping area. Joel had been there two times; once to do this clearing, and then again to help erect the outhouse. Joel had tick issues on his first trip, something we always tend to talk about.
Neither Lance nor Joel had been to the property since the outhouse was erected in 2015. It was going to be good to get them all back up there again. My normal guys of Dave, Bryan and Ron were also due to come, along with a newbie Tom, a good friend of ours from back-in-the-day.
Lance was not able to come for good reason, so there were seven of us…. Me, Dave, Bryan, Ron, Terry, Joel and newbie Tom. A great group of guys.
Ron rode with Brad hauling the Jayco. Bryan pulled up his Coleman. Terry drove up with Joel, and Dave drove up with Tom. While this trip would entail some work, there was a primary goal of showing these guys some of the progress we have made since they were last there, and get some feedback on that progress…. Kind of a sanity check. But it was also to celebrate their part in making this progress happen. Sometimes it seems very slow. And sometimes you have to look at where we started and really appreciate the progress that has been made.
It has always been about the journey, not the destination.
It rained almost the entire drive there on Friday morning, but we had zero rain from the time we arrived on Friday until we left to head home on Sunday morning. For the middle of July, we were quite blessed to have highs in the low eighties and lows in the upper fifties…. Not really July weather. It was perfect.
While we all departed at different times with different itineraries, we arrived at the property within ten minutes of each other. We set up the two trailers. Dave set up his tent. Joel set up his pop-up, which came in quite handy for us to have some shade in the middle of the day.
I am always busy when we first arrive, getting everything out of the Bravo we need and doing general organization. Since I have moved all firewood that was stored on the "garbage can rack" to the Babcox, I can now unload and store all of my transit supplies (i.e. chainsaws, weed whackers, etc.) on this rack, keeping it together, organized, and easy to throw a tarp over if it happens to rain. This also makes it easier to pack up when I am ready to depart.
We pretty much hung out during the afternoon, since we only had a few hours until suppertime. We had a good supper of BBQ pork, onion rings, and veggies with dip.
After cleanup from supper, we took a walking trip, primarily to show Tom the boundaries of the property. I was also able to share the details on the garage that needs to be erected at the front of the property.
Nighttime was a crack-up. Terry's stories included the outhouse erection weekend story that still makes us laugh to this day. Bryan's stories of the definition of an "Observer" were just as funny. Just a really fun night with guys who really get along well together. We played some bags, threw some hatchets, and just had a good time. We all hit the beds at around 11:00 PM.
I really did not sleep well on Friday night; was up early w/ Ron and Dave, the normal early-risers. I had arranged for Bryan to cook breakfast for us. It works out well that we are up early and can get to work while Bryan, who is usually the last one to rise, can get breakfast started.
Ron and I took off below to work on bagging. Last summer, Josh, Nathan and I roughed-in the lower bags. Since we are mining soil from along the bank, we need to be able to carry 80# bags up a slippery boulder without slipping and breaking an ankle. I did not spike those bags, knowing we may have to make adjustments. I was happy we did that because we did want to reposition those bags to give us more tread on the stairs.
Joel eventually came down also to lend a hand. We started running out of soil again. Strange, huh? We have 8.3 acres of land, and I am out of soil? Well, we are quite deliberate about the soil we take. Every shovel-full of soil exposes potential erosion issues. We have to remove soil in a way that will not sacrifice the integrity of the shoreline that would cause it to erode. So we are looking at water flow during a rain event, and things like that. Doing it right does not always mean doing it easy.
An excellent breakfast by Bryan of bacon, eggs, hashbrowns and toast. Then Ron and I were back down to wrap up bagging. We estimate we filled 27-ish bags; not bad for a Saturday morning. Then it was back up to the campground.
Rested for a bit, and Dave wanted to get to work with expanding the clearing. So he got going with the weed-whacker (you can see in the slideshow that we gave him our full support as we sat in our chairs). I got going with my lawn mower, and we started to eat into the "wild" on the eastern edge of the clearing. We keep working the land back to the edge of the woods. Tom and Joel worked on picking up debris to throw into the burn area, located on a stump we have been working on burning away.
There was a ball of roots near the Babcox that needed to be dealt with, and the guys decided they were going to get that pulled out using Terry's truck. So between Ron, Bryan and Dave, they used some straps and a large rope I had to work on pulling that root ball out of the ground. It was fun to watch.
Then they got a bit cocky, and wanted to tackle an oak stump that had been exposed by our clearing. The oak stumps up there are very strong. They don't rot very fast and the roots are pretty solid in the ground, even though it is sandy ground. I did not see any way they were going to get that stump pulled, but they were quite determined. I thought they would break my rope or Terry's truck before they ever pulled that out. But they did get it out with multiple tries and chopping on a root. I have to admit, it is nice to get those two things out of there to keep our clearing expansion going. Our goal is to install the pavilion at this location, and we want a buffer area to get the birch trees growing again on the fringes of the forest since they can't grow in the forest itself due to lack of sunlight.
There was a dead standing pine tree near the back of the clearing, but still in the "wild". Joel stated more than once that we needed to take down that pine tree. Now I am quite happy with our firewood storage, but it is full. So, my motto is "when I can do something with it, I will cut it down". But Joel wanted that tree down, and let's face it.... we could just use it for our firewood for the night rather than tapping into the Babcox. So, I cut it down, limbed it out and cut as much as was sticking into the expanded clearing. I'll cut up the rest later.... my chainsaw ran out of fuel, and I really did not want to fill it back up just to cut the remainder of the trunk. I'll do that another time.
One of the coolest things, for me, is the stuff like this. I don't have to think about what the next "thing" is that we need to do, because the ideas come from "them". Most of our ideas in the development of the property are because Dave says we should do this, or Ron says we should do that, or Bryan says we need to do this other thing. Then they just get after it. So yeah, if someone says "we need to pull out that root ball" or "we need to cut down that dead pine tree", that becomes my marching orders. What makes it cool is that everything you see on the property is the culmination of everyone's ideas. This is their legacy as much as it is mine. Cool stuff, huh?
Shortly before supper, Tom found a tick buried in his leg. I went to get my first aid kit, only to find something terribly bad had happened inside… almost like some but had laid eggs and the larvae ate away almost anything paper-based inside the kit. We had to rely on Dave's first aid kit, and Tom eventually was able to get the tick out. But, I need a new, and better, first aid kit complete with adequate tick-removal tools. While I was helping Tom out, Dave and Bryan cooked up our supper of brats, beans and Dave's potato concoction. Delicious.
Then, as usual, it is time for Brad to pack up for departure, but due to my organization it was pretty easy. Then it was just chilling out by the fire, having good times and good memories with good friends. Dave turned in around 9:00, and the rest of us were there around 10:00.
Up early for cleanup and breakfast burritos, and we were on the road shortly after 8:00 AM.
This was a really fun trip. I think the guys were pretty impressed with our progress, and it was nice to see them up there again. We did miss having Lance there, but we'll get him on the next pass.