Chronicling the cleanup and restoration of our house and property in northern Michigan

Chronicling the cleanup and restoration of our house and property in northern Michigan

Friday, October 8, 2010

Trailer Rehab Follow Up

We finished up the trailer last night.  After getting it back to Ohio we still needed to get a few things done.  We cut out the rusted-out section of the rear frame, replaced the wheel bearings, and primed and painted.  Here are a few pictures.

The newly reconstructed rear frame.

Just a quick, down and dirty paint job.  At least she's all one color now!

With the quad all loaded.

Towed it for the first time with the quad loaded, and I couldn't be happier.  Towed straight and true.  Just one final bit of work to do.  I need to wire brush the rust off of the bottom of the trailer, and prime and paint.  Then, on to the next project!

Talk to you all soon!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Trailer Rehab

We just back from a quick trip up.  This visit was something of a last minute decision, as we had thought that we wouldn't make it up at all in October.  What prompted this trip was the need for a trailer.  The small utility trailer we have, which we use for hauling our quad to band competitions, has a bent axle.  I got to thinking about the trailer that was left up on the property, which is larger and far sturdier...though in need of a good deal of TLC.  With several band competitions coming in the next few weeks we needed to get one of the trailers in shape, and I opted for the one at Shangri La.  Here is a picture of it from a previous trip.

The Obligatory "Before" Shot
As you can see, she's looking a bit rough.  The tires are shot, the tongue is bent where somebody jack knifed it, the bearings are in serious question, the frame at the rear is nearly rusted through, and the lights and wiring are shot. 

This was looking like a solo trip, until our youngest son Kyle agreed to join me.  Shelly had committed to a job for the weekend and Michael was scheduled to work, so it would be just the two of us.  I picked him up from school around 2:00 PM Friday and we immediately hit the road.  I was grateful for his company, as I was going to be needing the help.  The conversation on the drive to and from was also very welcome.  We arrived at the house around 9:30 PM.  We put the trailer into the barn so that we could start work on it first thing the next morning.  We then started a fire to warm the place up, and called it a night.

Bright and early the next morning we started in on the trailer.  Here's what we were dealing with.

Bald and Dry Rotted Tires
Destroyed Lights and Broken Wiring.  Bearings needing inspection and packing.

Somebody jack knifed the trailer at some point, and bent it all to heck.
I put together the shopping list and headed in to Cheboygan to buy what we needed.  We had checked out the Wal Mart here in Ohio first to see if they'd have the tires and hitch supplies, and to price things out.  I had already picked up the lights from Harbor Freight.  We had a nice surprise at the Wal Mart in Cheboygan.  The tires were$13 less each than they were in Ohio, and with needing to buy three with the spare that saved us a nice little handful of green.  Whatever I wasn't able to get at Wal Mart I picked up between Advance Auto Parts and Ace Hardware.

After working pretty much from sun up to sundown, less stopping for lunch and dinner and to run out for more parts, this is what we were able to accomplish.

New Hitch

New Lights and New Wiring

New Tires / Freshly Greased Wheel Bearings

All of Shelly's hard work on clearing out the barn really paid off big for us this weekend.  We were able to work on the trailer inside and out of the elements.  We made some good progress, but there's still some more work to do.  I need to replace the frame at the rear of the trailer where it's rusted out.  I already have the angle iron, and there's enough good metal left on the trailer to bolt it on to.  The outer bearings are a bit sloppy, so I'll be replacing those.  She's also in need of a thorough scraping, priming, and painting.  I'll take care of all that here in Ohio this week so that we can use it to haul the quad this weekend..  One other thing we were able to do was to seal the wood.  I found a gallon of Thompson's in the basement, so we slapped that onto the rails and decking.  Here's the result of our day's work.

Our "New" Quad Trailer
With this being a quick trip we didn't have much time to relax or play.  I did take the time to take a few pictures.

While on the drive back from Cheboygan, which had me on 23 running along Lake Huron, I stopped to take these few pictures at a roadside pull off.

Lake Huron
Lake Huron
Lake Huron

Here are a few shots around the house and property, showing the fall colors beginning to turn.

Shangri La
Shangri La
The drive, looking back toward the road.
Shangri La in the Fall
Kyle and I had a good time.  We talked and laughed a ton during the drives and during the time at the house.  We now have the trailer back here in Ohio, and she proudly tracked straight as an arrow the whole way down the freeway.  We're not sure when we'll be heading up next.  It might be at the end of the month.

Take care,and we'll talk to you all soon!

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Lights Out Good Time!

Just back from another good and productive weekend at Shangri La.  This trip was mainly geared towards making preparations for the soon to be coming cold weather.  I made this trip up without Shelly or the boys, but I did have company.  I invited an old friend, Tom, for his first visit up to the place.  Tom and his wife, Jenny, and us go way high school and beyond.  We were each others' best man for our weddings.  We also have quite a few stories from "back in the day" which...well....I'm not going to go into here.  ;)

Typically I have been heading up after work on Fridays, but this is football season and the band is playing.  Kyle plays in the marching band, so I waited until Saturday to head out so that I wouldn't miss out on the half time and post game shows.  As an added bonus, the football team won.  :)  I left Grove City at 6:00 AM Saturday and headed up to Taylor, MI to pick up Tom.  On the way to the Shangri La we made a small detour in Mio so that Tom could see his grandfather's old property.  It brought back a lot of fond memories for him, and it was pretty cool to hear him tell some of the stories.

When we arrived at Shangri La we had a pretty rude surprise waiting for us.  There was a bright pink tag on the door announcing that the electricity had been turned off.  With it being Saturday the only number to call was the emergency number, and they weren't able/willing to do anything for us since it wasn't an "emergency".  They said that we would have to call the office during regular business hours, and the office wasn't going to be open until Monday.  So, getting things straightened out would have to wait until then.  An electricity free weekend!  No big deal.  I'm a camper, right?  :)  No power meant no lights, but it also meant that the well pump wouldn't run.  Fortunately there was still pressure in the holding tank, so we did have some water.  It turned out that with rationing we were able to make it last the whole weekend.  All it took was a good plan.

The Plan:  ration the water, buy beer to drink, cook on the grill, light at night with an oil lamp and candles, no showers, number "one" outside, and number "two" inside and flush with a half bucket of water.

We got ourselves settled in.  With rain threatening we weren't planning on tackling anything big.  I showed Tom around the house and property, then we grabbed a couple of cans of spray paint.  Last fall I waited too long to mark the dead trees for cutting, so when the leaves fell I couldn't tell the dead from the alive trees.  We marked quite a few, and on a future trip we'll be cutting down our own firewood.

The rain started not long after.  We took a short drive to show Tom around, heading over to Lake Huron and to the boat launch at the mouth of the Ocqueoc River.  It was getting dark, so we headed back to the house.  Huh...pretty dark inside with no lights.  We lit a hurricane lamp and some candles, cracked open a few beers, and played Scrabble.  That's right...we played Scrabble by lamp light.

Sunday morning we woke to clear blue skies and a nice breeze.  A picture perfect fall day.  We headed in to Onaway for coffee and breakfast at the Wood Winds restaurant.  We have yet to have a bad meal here, and this meal was no exception.  After getting back to the house we picked apples, separating the good from the bad...or the people food from the deer food.  We ended up with about a milk crate of each.  Once we're up there full time we'll be able to tend the trees, so we should be able to see a better harvest in years to come.  I'm looking forward to whatever Shelly plans on making with these!

With that done I fired up the tractor and Tom fired up the weed whacker.  It feels pretty good, knowing this will be our last time doing this for the season. :)

With the lawn looking good we got to work on getting the tractor ready for winter.  We removed the mowing deck, attached the snow thrower, and installed the chains on the tires.  After the work on the mowing deck and carburetor the old girl is really running strong.  We had to fight a bit with the snow thrower, until we learned the trick of it.  Hopefully I'll be able remember the trick for next year.

After that we headed into the house to rid the kitchen of the old stove.  This behemoth is a 70's vintage, chocolate brown, LP fired monster, which anybody in their right mind would be afraid to use.

We had to remove the top oven from the stove just to make it light enough to get it out to the barn.  Even then the darn thing was heavy.  They don't make them like this anymore...thankfully.  It didn't come apart easily, and it won't be going back together.

Fortunately for us we had an overage on stoves.  A newer and less scary model was installed in the basement, so we disconnected it and moved it into the kitchen.  With its smaller profile it opened up the kitchen a bit.  And...we're not afraid to use it.  We didn't have the right fittings to get it hooked up, and with it being late on a Sunday nothing was opened.  We did try it downstairs before moving it, and all is in good working order.  We just need to buy parts and take them with us the next trip up.  Then we'll be cooking with gas!  Yeah...I know.  Sometimes I just can't help myself.

That's pretty much it for this trip up.  Other than the work above I spent a lot of time day dreaming and planning on all of the renovations we'll be doing in the coming years.  Tom had some really good ideas.  We've decided that the first major renovation will be finishing the basement.  I'm going to need a home office, and once done we'll have a ton more living space.  It was really great having Tom along for this trip.  It's been a very long time since we've hung out together, and it felt an awful lot like old times.  :)

Just in case you're wondering what the inside of a house in northern Michigan looks like at night with no electricity, here's a picture.

Talk to you all next time!  :)


Thursday, September 2, 2010

HUGE news!

Those that know us even a little bit know that our plans for the future have included an eventual move to Shangri La.  Recent and quickly moving events have shifted that timetable up BIG TIME.

My manager very recently sent out a broadcast e-mail announcement. A req had been approved for a position similar to mine, but in Michigan. I immediately sent him an e-mail, with a map of MI attached with the location of the house marked. I asked him if it would be possible for the position to be located "HERE".

We talked a bit on the phone, and he said he would look into it. The next day my manager and his manager were scheduled to be in town. They pulled me into the conference room and told me that, if I am serious, the position is mine.  "Yes, I am serious!".

As for timing, I am slated to move into the new position at the beginning of the year. How's this for an awesome place to work?  They're going to allow me to handle the Michigan accounts from Ohio until after our youngest son Kyle graduates! We'll then put the house in Ohio on the market and begin our move north. We'll be able to slowly move some things up there over the course of the next ten months.

I can't begin to tell you how excited Shelly and I are. But, the move will have its downside. The foremost concern for us is leaving Kyle in Ohio. He's made his plans for after high school. He'll be attending ITT for a degree in networking, majoring in IT security. I wonder what that's like...knowing what you want to be when you grow up.  God knows I'm still trying to figure it out.  :)  So, after the house sells we'll be putting him up in an apartment while he attends school. We're also considering the possibility of refinancing the house and having Kyle stay in it with some friends, and then selling it in a few years when the market improves.  You first I felt like we would be completely abandoning him.  I keep telling myself that it's no different than him going away to school, and isn't. Is it?

Our oldest son Michael is weighing his options, and a move with us to Michigan is a possibility.  He's making big strides in recovering from a rough time of it this past year, and a fresh start in a new place could be just the ticket to get him completely over the hump.

Moving further away from our closest friends will cause us no small amount of pain. Thankfully, the world is much smaller than it used to be.  That, and we will officially be putting ourselves out there as a Vacation Destination!

So, in the foreseeable future updates here will include info not only on the continuing efforts to fix the old place up.  They'll include updates on...OUR MOVE TO SHANGRI LA!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Odd Jobs and Relaxation

We just arrived back in Ohio after a great weekend at Shangri La.  It was a shorter weekend trip than most, as I ended up working late on Thursday so we didn't hit the road until Friday morning.  We arrived at the house around 3:00 PM, and were immediately struck by how good the place is looking.  All of the hard work is paying off.  We were also struck by low hanging branches, so low that they were hitting the Explorer when we were pulling into the drive.  Add that to the to-do list.  We had some company on this trip.  Shelly's brother Jamie arrived shortly after us, and he brought three friends...Tony, Dan, and Dillon.

Following our last trip up, which was for a whole week, our to-do list for this trip was blessedly short. After getting our stuff put away, and having some dinner, Shelly and I dove into clearing the low branches from the trees bordering the driveway.    Jamie and his friends decided to try their luck at fishing.  After clearing the branches, Shelly and I headed to Ocqueoc Falls for a swim to cool off.  Great thinking, Shelly!  We ended up catching as many fish as Jamie and his friends, so I think we chose better.  ;)  :)  When everybody was back at the house we went out to the barn to take a look at the tractor.  At the very tail end of the last trip the tractor died while Kyle was cutting the grass.  It would run strong, but as soon as he'd engage the mowing deck the engine would shut down.  Tony volunteered to take a look at it to see what he could do. He dove right in and located a bad fuse in the fuseable link going to the PTO.  A new 20 amp fuse and she was back to life.  Thankfully, an easy and inexpensive fix!  Afterward, we hooked up the Nintendo Wii and went bowling.  All had a good time, and we got to know Jamie's friends a bit.  Good folks.
Saturday morning, and we woke up to rain.  Jamie was planning on doing some work on the deer blinds, and that now wasn't looking likely.  I needed to get the grass cut, and with the grass wet or dry that was going to happen.  It finally let up, so I headed out to get to work.  Jamie and his friends headed over to Uncle Donny's for a visit.  I got the grass knocked down and the weeds whacked, and about that time Jamie and the crew returned.  They decided that going fishing sounded like more fun than working on the deer blinds.  I can't say that I disagree.  :)  They got Jamie's boat ready to go, and headed over to Ocqueoc Lake.  Shelly and I hung back and just puttered around the place, doing some odd jobs.  Nothing too big, but stuff that needed to be done.  We just took our time, got done what we could, and enjoyed each others' company.

We still had three windows that had no screens, and with the mosquitoes up there that meant these windows weren't being opened.  There is a pile of about 30 screens out in the barn, so we measured the windows and I headed out to see if we'd be lucky enough to have any the right size.  Luck was with us...I found three perfectly sized.  They had a few holes in them, which we taped up for now.  The next trip up I'll replace the screening in the frames.  They fit right in like they belonged there, and with all of the windows open the place was much cooler.  

After this Shelly and I headed to the Ace Hardware in Rogers City.  We needed to buy parts to repair a leaky shutoff valve on the hot water heater.  I was hoping to be able to repair the valve, but that wasn't meant to be.  So, with plans to replace the hot water heater in the near future I decided to just do a quick fix.  Rather than replacing the entire valve, which would involve cutting out the existing valve and sweating in a new one I instead just cut off the shaft from the valve and screwed on a cap.  This means we can no longer shut off the water supply to the heater, but it's only a temporary fix until we buy and install the new water heater.  I'll replace the valve when I install the new heater.

After some dinner, which we ate outside in the EZ Up and screen room, we relaxed for a bit.  I was feeling a bit restless, so I grabbed a sledge hammer and set about busting up a pile of cinder blocks.  We needed to fill in a rut in the driveway entrance, being created by erosion from the rain.  The busted up cinder blocks filled that in nicely.  After that, I figured I was finally done for the day.  I got a nice roaring bonfire going, and Shelly and I just kicked back and relaxed.

Jamie and his friends arrived back from fishing, and they had a pretty good haul of perch and bass.  We figured that they'd hang around the fire for a while, but they decided that after cleaning the fish that they were going to pack up and go home.  They said their goodbyes, and left while Shelly and I were still lounging by the bonfire.  A bit later Shelly and I headed in and played some Wii bowling and some other games.  All in all, it was a very good day. 

Sunday morning, and time to pack up.  We woke late, and took our time getting ready.  I knocked down one more small job.  A pane of safety glass had been dropped and broken at some point, leaving a large pile of glass pellets in the yard.  It was finally high enough on the list of things to do, and the shop vac made quick work of it.  Shelly and I have developed a routine, her working inside the house, and me loading and securing the trailer.  With the house cleaned up and the trailer loaded we hit the road for Ohio.  We arrived home around 7:30 PM, unloaded, and relaxed with the boys a bit before calling it a night.

We're thinking our next trip up will be at the end of August.  The only thing high on the list for that trip, other than cutting the grass, is to caulk up anything that needs caulking before the weather turns.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

First Week Long Trip: The Reveal!

Our last installment had us finishing up the barn and picnic pavilion clean ups, and we were in the middle of power washing the siding.  The power washing of the siding went very well.  The power washer we bought for this project worked every bit as well as we could have hoped.  We performed all of the cleaning without any chemicals, just relying upon water and pressure.  Because we're on a well we really didn't want to put any harsh chemicals into the ground water.

Additionally, we needed to do some work on the back porch.  This was an add on to the house, and it was never completely finished.  The soffit was never installed, and there were a few missing pieces of siding.  This was making for a good home for birds and wasps, but we're all about keeping the wildlife outdoors.  Here are a few before shots.

Our youngest son Kyle and I tackled this project.  We're pretty pleased with the results.

This finished up the final step prior to sealing the siding and finishing the painting of the foundation.  We had a few rainy days, so we couldn't tackle the sealing until Saturday morning when the siding was dry.  After a few false starts the sealant went on fairly quickly.  We bought an inexpensive garden sprayer to apply the sealant, but found that inexpensive = cheap and useless.  We had a good quality sprayer we used for spreading weed/grass killer on the driveway.  We knew that using it would ruin it, but use it we did.  The difference was HUGE, and the sealant went on quickly.  Here are shots of each side of the finished house.

South Facing Side

Front - West Facing

North Facing Side

Rear - East Facing

Rear of the Porch - East Facing

Rear Porch Entrance

Before and After

The "Crew"

The best part about this project for me is that it was truly a group effort.  We worked hard, but we had fun while we were doing it.  We also took time to just have some fun, swimming in Black Lake and Ocqueoc Falls.  The week went by all too quickly, but we left feeling like we had truly accomplished something.  Our sore muscles told us how hard we worked, and the house told us that it was all worth it.

Throughout the week we had a few visitors.  The dog belonging to our neighbors down the road had very recently had puppies, and every day we were there one or all of them would come to visit.  Here's "Mama" and the kids.

This one is so cute it's painful.

We're not sure yet when our next trip up will be.  We have a few things on the agenda to be done, but nothing nearly on the scale of what we pulled off this week.  Thanks for stopping in, and we'll see you all soon!

Monday, July 5, 2010

First Week Long Trip - Day Three: Siding, Deck, and the Barn

Day three began much the same as day two.  Up, eat, and outside to work.  I tackled the front siding and the deck, and Shelly and Kyle tackled the larger barn.  This is going to be primarily a pictorial update.  I'm whipped, and not feeling particularly verbose.  :)

The short story for the day:  The front of the house and the deck are cleaned.  The barn is emptied out.  The dumpster is full.  The painting of the foundation has begun.

Now, the pics.

First, a few "before" shots of the inside of the barn.

And now, the "after".

Where'd it all go?  TA-DAAAAA!

Now for the progress on the siding and the deck.

Here's a before and after shot of the deck.

In progress.

Cleaned and ready for sealant when it dries.

This is close to what she'll look like when we're done.  Here are a couple shots of the foundation in progress of being painted, and the finished product.  Just the sealing of the siding to go on this side of the house.

Back at the siding again tomorrow.  Hoping to get an early start and finish the remaining two sides.  With any luck, and if the weather cooperates, we'll be spraying on the sealant on Thursday.  I'm pretty darn psyched at our progress!

Just to show that we're not all about work, here are some pics from last night's fireworks.  :)