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

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!