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

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Clearing out the last corner...

How about a little basement before and after.  :)  This weekend we dove into clearing out the last remaining corner of the basement.  Rather than get all wordy, I'll let the pictures do the talking.

This gets us very close to starting on the finishing of the basement!   Until next time.  :)

How It Works: Wood Boiler Edition

We've had more than a few folks ask about our wood fired boiler system, so I figured I'd take a shot at explaining how it works.  There's also the fact that I am extremely intrigued by the whole setup and won't pass up a chance to talk about it.  :)

I'll start with the wood boiler itself.

In the simplest terms, an outdoor wood boiler consists of a fire box, a water jacket surrounding the fire box, and a pump to circulate the heated water into the house...where it is used for heat and then returned to the boiler water jacket.  The heated water can be used in a forced air system by being pumped through a plenum or, as in our case, a baseboard heating system.     The boiler's fire box is loaded with fire wood and heats the water in the water jacket to between 175 and 185 degrees.

The temperature is regulated by a thermostat which controls a damper on the door.  When the temperature of the water in the water jacket drops below 175 the damper opens to allow air into the fire box.  This stokes the flames to increase the temperature of the water.  Once the water temperature reaches 185 the damper closes.  The fire is then held to a slow burn until the water temperature drops again to 174.  This minimizes the amount of wood needed.  We're finding that we have to fill the fire box with wood only twice per day, in the morning and again before bed.

The pump that is mounted in the boiler runs to continuously circulate the heated water to the house, through the heat exchange system, and back to the boiler.  You can also see in the picture how well insulated this boiler is.  The entire unit is fully insulated, as are the lines that run underground to the house.

The heated water that is circulated by the wood boiler pump is run through two heat exchangers in the house.  One is mounted to our LP fired boiler, and one is mounted to our hot water heater.  The LP boiler and water heater are separate and closed systems from the wood boiler, meaning that the water from the wood boiler is not actually shared.  What is shared is the heat, via the heat exhcangers.  The heated water is run through the exchangers, thereby heating them to approximately 170 degrees.  This heat is transferred in the heat exchanger to the water in the LP boiler and the hot water heater.  Because the water is heated via the heat exchangers the LP boiler and water heater are both turned off. in free heat and hot water.  :)

Our system is a four zone baseboard heat system.  The system is controlled by four thermostats which control the heat for the bedrooms, bathroom, basement, and living room & kitchen.  The existing LP boiler supplies heated water on demand, as dictated by the thermostat for a particular zone.  When the temperature in a particular zone drops below the set temperature a gate valve is opened in the boiler system.  When it is fully opened the pump on the LP boiler starts, which circulates the heated water through that zone.  Below are the four gate valve motors controlled by the four thermostats.

Here is a shot of the complete LP boiler system.

As far as maintenance on the wood fire boiler, it's fairly minimal.  There's the twice daily stoking of the fire, of course.  Then there is the need to occasionally clear the fire box of ash.  Tools were provided with the boiler for doing this.  The ash will be hot when removed from the boiler, so a metal container is needed.  I have a 30 gallon metal drum with a hinged lid that we use.  The drum should be large enough to hold the ash from an entire heating system, and we'll be spreading the ash on our garden.  There is also a test that needs to be performed, basically the same as that of testing the water in a pool.  This ensures that the water is properly balanced to prevent any rusting of the water jacket.  There is some additional care and maintenance to be done at the end of a heating and lubrication...but nothing too involved.

That's about all I can think of.  If you have any other questions post them and I'll respond as best I can.  :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Well Dave has asked me to add an update on how things are going from my perspective, so here goes.

It's been CRAZY!!

Dave touched on all that we've done in the past year but what he failed to mention is that the majority of it happened in the last six months. But, we are settling into a routine.

I've been trying to make the place feel like home and it's finally beginning to. We have curtains on the windows instead of sheets, nice rugs down even though the flooring needs to be replaced, a new bed and bedding in our room. These little changes made a huge difference. I've also been cooking and baking again, which makes any place feel more like home.

Life is about to get crazy again with the holidays, Kyle home from school and a LOT of travel in January. All that aside, I'm really looking forward to renovating things around here and making it ours. We have big plans and hopefully we can pull it off.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Three months, and settling in...

We've been moved in at Shangri La for three months now, and things are finally beginning to normalize.  This past year has been like nothing we've ever experienced.  The highlights include a high school graduation, two  graduation parties, a new job, splitting the family between two houses, temporary blindness, moving son into college, gall bladder attacks, pancreatitis, selling a home, moving to Michigan, bronchitis, and celebrating a 25th wedding anniversary.  Having survived all of that, we're now beginning to settle into a routine...a routine which I hope will include far more frequent updates here.  

We have been able to get a few things accomplished...not as much as we'd like, but a few things.  One very huge thing off the to-do list is the installation of the wood fired boiler, which also includes the installation of a new hot water heater.  The boiler is now fully installed, and its care and feeding are quickly becoming a part of our daily routine.  It is proving to be every bit as effective as we had hoped, and our expectation for a 3-4 year return on our investment is looking to be very realistic.  

The barns are now fully cleared out and organized, and we've made a serious dent in clearing out the basement in preparation for finishing.  The basement project is going to be our first major renovation.

One project which will most definitely be in the works is the installation of new windows throughout the entire house.  The house itself is very well insulated, but the windows are a serious weak point.  For this winter we put plastic on all of the windows, and we hung curtains.  The two together made a HUGE difference, and the curtains certainly dressed up the place.

Aside from the above, and I'm sure that I'm forgetting some things, we've been unpacking and organizing.  Fitting everything into a home of half the size is a serious challenge.  :)

So, that's it for this update for me.  Shelly will be providing an update as well, and I'm sure she'll do a good job of filling in any blanks I've left.  I hope to be back here very soon, talking about all of the stuff we're getting done.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Well, we did it!

We did it!  We pulled it off!  We made it!  The decision we made just over a year ago has come to fruition.  We have moved to northern Michigan.  Our last installment outlined the plan for moving our son into the dorm, closing on the house, and moving us to Michigan.  I can't believe that I'm able to say this, but it all went off pretty much without a hitch.

That's not to say that it was easy.  Oh, most definitely was NOT that.  But, it was more the emotional side that was a strain than the physical.  At every turn, I underestimated how much of an impact all of this would have on my psyche.  Of course, in hindsight I can see it all so very clearly.  In leaving Ohio we left a lot behind...close friends, a son, and our home of 14 years.  The bizarre part was simultaneously feeling excited...for the new opportunity at work, the new surroundings, the space with living on ten+ acres, and the fun of working on a new fixer-upper.

So, we made it and we're all moved in at Shangri La, but we're far from organized.  We can't even see organized from where we're at.  Heck, there are times that I think we can't even get there from here. ;)   You know that old cliche about how you eat an bite at a time?  That's the mindset we're trying to maintain right now.  We organized our master bedroom yesterday.  We dismantled the old full sized bed that came with the house and hauled it outside, and Shelly listed it on Freecycle.  We're hoping someone needs it and will haul it off for us.  We changed our bed out to a platform queen, which we had previously built for Kyle.  Shelly found the plans on HGTV for it, and it's a pretty solid design.  We ordered a new mattress for it that should be here in a week or so.  We spoiled ourselves a bit, and ordered a Sleep Number mattress.

We do have some money from the sale of the house, and we're doing our best to make the most of it.  With the wood fired boiler going in we need to gear up for wood cutting and splitting.  We picked up a new log splitter, a 35 ton Huskee from Tractor Supply.  We'll be using it tomorrow.  Today we gave the new chainsaw we bought last month a good workout.  We also pulled quite a few good sized logs from the gully by the power lines, where the utility company had downed the trees to clear their easement, over to an area by where the wood boiler will be placed.  There are quite a few good sized trees still in the woods, and I'm hoping tomorrow to get those cut up and moved to the permitting.

One other thing we did today was to check out our very first auction.  It was about an hour from us in Lachine, MI.  We didn't end up buying anything.  There just wasn't anything we just had to have.  It was a cool experience, though, and we'll be checking out more as we find out about them.

We've been talking for some time about walking the Mackinac Bridge on Labor Day.  Now that it's here, we're thinking instead of just working around the house.  I know, we need to be having fun as well.  But there's only so much time before the snow flies, and we have so much that we need to get done before then.  Decisions...decisions.

Shelly said that she'll be posting her own update about what she's been doing in the house.  I'll just say this.  Shelly does not like a disorganized house, so you can likely imagine her current state of mind.  ;)

Talk to you all soon!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Plans are set...

...and August is going to be one busy month!

In just two weeks, the weekend of the 12th, we will be moving the remainder of our belongings up to Shangri La. Fortunately we've been able to use our utility trailer to take a good deal of stuff up, so we're left mostly with just the big ticket items. Mike, Peanut and I will drive down from Shangri La on Thursday, and on that Friday we'll pick up the U-Haul truck...which, thanks to Shelly's family's auto repair shop being a U-Haul rental location, we'll be getting at a discount. Got to love family! Before heading to Ohio Mike and I need to make room at Shangri La by clearing out the old furniture. If we can't find someone to take it we'll be hauling it off to the landfill.

And then...
After getting everything up there Shelly and the boys will spend the next week working on getting things situated, while I have to travel most of the week for work.  The next weekend Shelly, Kyle and I will drive back to Ohio. We're moving Kyle into the dorm at Capital University on the 24th, where he'll embark upon his journey towards becoming a music educator.   :)

And then...
Shelly and I will stay in Ohio in our all but empty house, where we'll "camp out" for a few days. Then, on the 31st we'll be closing on the house...and closing this chapter of our lives. We'll have successfully navigated through six months that turned out to be every bit as hectic as we expected it to be, and then some. We're preparing ourselves for an emotionally draining few weeks, as we move away from all of the dear friends we've made, leave our youngest son at college, and leave our wonderful home of 15 years.

But, then...
On September 1st we open the next chapter, embarking upon our entirely new adventure as retread Michiganders and full time residents of Shangri La.

To be continued...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Most excellent news, and a list of completed stuff...

We have finally made some significant progress on the selling of the house in Ohio.  Someone finally made an offer!  This, after countless showings and two price drops.  Fortunately, the couple making the offer did not request yet another price drop, instead offering our asking price.  We countered only with some minor clarifications, and VOILA!, we are in contract!

The closing won't happen until the end of September, as the buyer has a lease that will not expire until then.  This concerns us some, as we'll be taking the house off the market during a crucial time.  Folks that are going to buy are more likely to move on something now than after school starts.  If the buyer should back out for some reason we will miss out on all of this time.  But, there's nothing to be done for it.  It's the first offer we've had since listing, so there's no way we're going to take a pass on it.

On the Shangri La homefront, we're continuing to whittle away at small projects here and there.  
  • Cleaned and polished the wood stove, removing the rust that had cropped up because of a minor water leak.  
  • Put wood sealer on the door we built for the small barn.
  • Set up my temporary home office.
  • Further organized the small barn.
  • Tested all of the connections in the propane line for leaks, both inside and out.  
  • Pulled three stumps. (Two to go.)
  • Organized the kitchen cupboards and hall closet.
  • Cleared out all unnecessary kitchen utensils and appliances.  These went back to Ohio with Shelly for selling in a garage sale.
  • Cleared out a portion of the basement.  We moved about twenty cans of paint outside, opened them and placed them in the covered area next to the small barn.  The landfill will accept them when the paint hardens.
  • Mowed the lawn and weed whacked.  (I know it's not a project, but I'm taking credit anyway.)
  • Hung the hammock and put up a screen room.  We've got to relax sometime!
Speaking of relaxing, one of our new favorite things to do is to take the quad for a ride in the evening along the many gravel roads all around us.  At the end of a hot summer day with the wind in your face, it's a great way to cool off.  I highly recommend it!  

Shelly came up for a visit last weekend, and with just a few touches she immediately made the place feel more like home.  It was my birthday that weekend, and having Shelly up here was all the gift I needed.  Though, I'm certainly not complaining about the new chainsaw she bought me.  :)

I went down to Ohio this weekend to see Shelly and Kyle, which worked out perfectly with the offer on the house and the signing of the necessary paperwork.  See what I did there, taking you full circle?  ;)  :)

Talk to you all again soon!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Darn Seasonals!

I had a very cool moment the other day that I thought I'd share with y'all.  Mike and I were doing some grocery shopping over at the Wal Mart in Cheboygan.  The store was PACKED with out of town folks gearing up for their up-north holiday weekend.

While walking through the store I overheard two employees complaining about all of the "darn seasonals".  I was immediately offended, thinking to myself, "You likely wouldn't even have a job if it weren't for all of us darn seasonal people!"

That's when it hit me.  They weren't talking about me, because...I live here!  I can't even describe to you the smile that put on my face.  :)

Now, I'm just wondering at what point I'll start complaining about all of these darn seasonals.  ;)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Three Weeks...

I'm throwing a bit of a pity party.  You're invited to read on, but attendance is not mandatory. ;)

Three weeks.  That's how long my son Mike and I have been living at Shangri La.  Mike and are getting things done, which was the primary purpose for our moving up here early.  That, and my job is more easily done from here than from Ohio.  Also, not to be minimized is the high quality father/son time we're spending together.  Yesterday he and I went kayaking, his first time, and by all accounts we had a good time.  This is all good stuff, right?

But...I keep thinking I should be far more excited, living "up north" like I always dreamed of ever since I was a kid.  Oh, I know the reason for the lack of enthusiasm, and it's no big mystery.  Shelly isn't here with us.  She and Kyle are coming up on Friday and are staying for a week, but Shelly won't be up here full time until late August.  In our nearly twenty-five years of marriage these three weeks are the longest we've ever been separated from each other.  I don't like it...not one damn bit.

I'm sure for some couples three weeks may not seem like all that long, and to these folks I may be coming across as a bit whiny.  To these people I would politely say, "Tough's how I feel."  :)  Shelly and I have always gotten along better the more we're together, and I love that about us.

From the time we found out we were moving up here until Mike and I actually moved it was seventeen months.  I have been extremely impatient over the course of those months, to the point of being annoying.  Just ask Shelly...she will tell you.  But, these past three weeks have affected me far more more than all the months prior.  It'll be that and then some again before Shelly is able to get her butt up here to stay.  Oh, we'll get through it.  I'm sure some day we'll look back at this year as the major milestone that it is, and we'll marvel at how strong we were to have actually pulled it all off.  In the middle of it, though, it is some big time major suckage.

So, Mike and I will keep working up here, completing project after project after project.  It all will make it more livable and more enjoyable, but for all of it we'll know that only Shelly can make it a home.

I was hoping that by writing this I would feel better...that maybe it would be some kind of cathartic experience to lighten my soul of this depressive state.  Meh...not so much.  I wonder if there's any beer left in the fridge. ;)  :)

Back to our regularly scheduled, and mostly upbeat programming.  :)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Catching up...yet again...

I can't tell you how many times I've said to myself, "I"m going to update the blog today."  Apparently, just saying it doesn't make it happen.  The proof?  That would be the lack of an update since the beginning of May, despite numerous trips to the house. *facepalm*

So, let me catch you up.  Our house in Ohio is for sale, I'm still learning the new MI job, our youngest son graduated and was accepted into the music conservatory at Capital University, we held two graduation each in OH and MI, and I and my oldest son have moved to Shangri La while Shelly and our youngest son are still in Ohio.  The last is brutal in the extreme, but necessary.  The new job is difficult to manage from Ohio, and we really need to start getting some things done on Shangri La.  Shelly will be moving up after we get settled Kyle settled in at college, at the end of August.

Now, let's get you caught up on what this blog is supposed to be about...restoring Shangri La.  I made a few solo trips up before our oldest son Mike and I moved up here, which was two weeks ago.  During those trips I cleared out the small barn of its remaining "stuff", and changed the tractor over from winter to summer mode.

The small barn had quite a bit of junk still left in it from the previous owner.  I was able to get it all cleared out, load it in the trailer, and haul it off to the landfill.  This freed up space for parking the quad, and for the gear I would be moving up from the garage in Ohio.  The tractor, I removed the snow thrower and tire chains, and after sharpening the blades I installed the mowing deck and changed the oil.

As I mentioned above, Mike and I are now living up here full time, along with our boxer mix mut...Peanut.  We've been trying to get into something of a routine, but it's tough with so much in transition.  We have had some success in knocking down a few projects.  The first project, Mike created a list of projects.  :)

One of the big things we've been missing to make this truly feel like a home...A MAIL BOX!  There was a pole already in the ground, so Mike and I headed up to ACE to buy the mail box.  It's official, folks!  We're on the grid at Shangri La!

Some of you might recall a previous post regarding our considering the purchase of an outdoor wood boiler.  (A Heated Topic)  Back in May we made the purchase, and last week the boiler arrived at the dealer.  They're going to store it for us until we get the pad poured, likely delivering it in August.  Here she is, and yes...we went with red!

We're rural enough that high speed internet via cable or DSL are not an option.  That left either satellite or Verizon.  Satellite won't do for work because of the latency, and Verizon's signal is fairly weak.  We can't fix the satellite issue, but the cellular booster has us up and running with pretty good indoor coverage for voice and data.

The house is equipped with a mix of vintage wood windows and vinyl replacements.  The screens on the vintage windows are in pretty rough shape.  There is a good amount of new screen material in the barn, left there by the previous owner, and I had some screen spline from a previous project.  Mike and I were able to replace the screens for two windows, one in his bedroom and one in my and Shelly's.  The cross breeze in the house was immediately noticeable!

Lastly knocked off the to-do list, the spraying of insecticide outside around the foundation and inside around the baseboards both on the main floor and in the basement.  We've been having an ant problem, and while working the other day a big, juicy wolf spider ran across my notepad. (((shudder)))

Shelly and our youngest son Kyle will be heading up on Friday, and will be staying for a week.  I know that my productivity today has a lot to do with knowing they're heading up.  All of these major life changes we've taken on all at once, and then right in the middle of it we make the decision to split the family in half.  It's fair to say that it's been a bit overwhelming, and staying motivated can be difficult.  Just knowing they're coming up has put a spring in my step.  Can't wait to have the family all together!

Mike and are planning to tackle one or a few items on the list tomorrow, but we're also planning on taking the kayaks out for a paddle.  Mike has never been kayaking, and we're planning to head over to Ocqueoc Lake for his first run.

More coming soon!

Monday, May 2, 2011

We're not the Jeffersons, but...

...we're moving on up!  North, that is!  I know, that's not exactly new news.  However, we have now officially settled on a week for the "big move".  We're giving ourselves a solid week for this particular Shangri La project.  After careful consideration and a painstaking decision making process, the dart hit the calendar on the week of July 10th!  

We'll be moving the majority of our stuff up that week, with some few items being left in Ohio for Shelly and Kyle.  While Michael and I will be staying in Ocqueoc after the move, Shelly and Kyle will be heading back to Ohio.  Kyle will be attending college at Capital University in Bexley, Ohio and isn't moving into the dorm until mid-August.  So, we will be dividing and conquering.  We considered waiting to make the move until late August, but there are some projects at Shangri La that unfortunately can't be put off that long.  Michael and I are going to team up for those while Shelly is getting Kyle settled in to the dorm.  Then, after he's situated she'll head on up.  It's going to be a very strange month with the family divided between two households.  Very strange, indeed.

I know that it's just selecting a week on the calendar, but this just feels BIG.  We now not only know how and what we'll be doing...we know exactly when.  

We're still in negotiations on who will get custody of Peanut for that month.


More to follow as the date gets closer!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Heated Topic

We have been taking a serious look at our heating options at Shangri La.  We've finally come to a determination, but I'm going to take the long way around so that you can slowly warm up to the idea.  Cool?  ;)

Option 1:  We have a wood stove in the living room, and it  serves well to heat that entire floor.  However, it does not heat the basement.  Not a big deal right now, with the basement being nothing more than a cinder block surrounded hole beneath the house where we do laundry.  But, we have plans to significantly modify the use of this space.

Option 2:  We have an LP fired boiler and baseboard heat throughout the upstairs and the basement.  This would seem like a viable option, but there are several reasons that it is decidedly not.  They are: The insanely expensive cost of LP, the boiler's age and questionable maintenance history, and our profound fear of being consumed by a flaming fireball of doom and destruction.  Shocking, I know, but we're not overly enthused about this option.  

So, we've ruled out the existing boiler as an option for what we believe to be very good reasons.  The existing wood stove is newer and works very well, and it will be part of a backup heating solution during power outages.  However, we do not consider it to be our long term, full time solution.  Should we need even more fuel for the get-rid-of-the-old-boiler-now fire, the existing boiler is in the basement...that we're going to be finishing.  Waiting until we add a bunch of walls to decide to remove the boiler just doesn't make a good deal of sense.

This all leads us to...


Now that we've decided that our long term, primary heat source is not currently within our home, we embarked upon a heated path discovery.  Our search had us looking at options that included a geo-thermal heat pump, a new LP fired boiler, and an outdoor wood fired boiler.  

Ultimately, and maybe a bit surprisingly we decided on an outdoor wood fired boiler with LP backup.  We ended up here for several reasons. First, with access to 35 acres of mostly wooded property we have a readily available fuel supply.  It's a fuel supply that will be FAR less expensive than LP or electric. Second, the purchase and installation of a wood boiler will cost far less than a replacement LP boiler or forced air solution.  With the ready supply of fuel we should be looking at a return on investment of roughly three years. Compare that to our second favorite option of a geo-thermal heat pump.  The cost for going geo-thermal would be at least twice that of the wood fired boiler, and the return on investment pretty much matches the life expectancy at 15 years.

The final clincher is that we have a Central Boiler dealer less than thirty minutes from the house.  After stopping by and talking with the owner we would definitely feel good about doing business with them.  "Them" being Double L Tack, Inc. in Tower, MI.  They are a full line Central Boiler dealer.

We're looking at thClassic CL 5036.

Classic CL 5036 Wood Fired Boiler

But wait...there's more!

This will also give us heating options we wouldn't otherwise have with other solutions.  We can route lines for heating other structures.  I could heat the barns, or even Shelly's future greenhouse, all from this one boiler.  We're purchasing a boiler larger than what we need for the house's requirements just for that reason.  

Another big plus is that it can be tied into our existing hot water heater.  Can you say FREE HOT WATER?!  

If we're not already sold, how about one more BIG PLUS?  The installation is relatively simple, especially when compared to a geo-thermal installation.  We'll be handling the installation ourselves and saving some serious green. more thing.  If you're like me you're thinking, "Is it really going to be that butt-ugly brown color?"  No, it will not.  They offer various color options!

...and, no.  It won't be camo!

Stay tuned!  :)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Organization? Oh, yeah...we've got that.

Finally, another trip to Shangri La.  It seems the closer we get to the move the more impatient I become for visits.  This trip was prompted by Shelly's birthday, which prompted the need for a new drivers license for her and new plates for our cars and trailers.  This close to being up there full time, we decided to move everything over to the Michigan address.  We also decided that this would be a good trip for hauling the camper up.  There's just no time for camping right now, and we have a ton of room up north for storage.

I thought about titling this installment "Blown Away!" or "Was that a cow?!"  About half way up the wind kicked in, and didn't let up for the remainder of the drive.  Towing a rolling billboard in 30 mph winds, with gusts up to 45 mph, makes for a white knuckle ride that I'd just as soon never repeat.  There were a few times that, had I not corrected, I'm pretty sure I would have lost it.  Scary stuff!  

In addition to the stop at the Secretary of State for the plates we made two other stops.  One at a Lowes in Findlay to pick up a closet organizer, and one for dinner at the Know Good bar in Atlanta.  After a drive like the one we were negotiating, the recuperative powers of  pizza and beer cannot be minimized.  Ham, pineapple and green olive pizza...mmmmm.  I don't think the waitress's tastes ran to the exotic.  She actually looked like she threw up in her mouth a little when we ordered.  :)

We had a few things we planned to tackle this trip, with the primary project being the painting of the master bedroom closet and the installation of a closet organizer.  Shelly tackled the painting, and we ganged up on the closet organizer.

Closet with the original wood shelving

Freshly painted, and organizer installed
Close up of the organizer

The wood shelving we pulled out of the closet found a new home out on the back porch.  We will eventually be finishing the porch, but for now this will give us some of the storage and organization we so badly need.

The obligatory "before" picture of the back porch, where the shelving from the closet will be going.

The old closet shelves in place on the back porch.

Some other odds and ends we managed to get done were to re-winterize the camper; replacing the not-so-good pots, pans and cutlery with the good stuff from the camper; re-securing some loose/hanging soffit that would have been letting in bugs when the weather warms; added some screen on the camper to the exterior access doors for the water heater and fridge to keep the bees/wasps from setting up shop.  

The weather wasn't overly conducive to outdoor projects, with the wind whipping for most of the weekend the same or more than what we drove through on the way up.  At one point I got a bit stir crazy, so Shelly humored me and took me out for a walk in the rain.  

Here are a few shots of the camper in her new parking spot.  She'll sit here until after the move, until probably September when we will again have time for a bit of camping.  The first shot is from Saturday, just after re-winterizing.  The second was taken on Sunday morning and ...well, this is near immediate justification for the winterizing done on Saturday.  

Thanks for visiting.  Until next time!  :)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Catching up...

It's been way too long since I've thrown a post up on here.  Sorry about the neglect!  We have made a few trips up over the last couple months.  We managed to get some work done, and we also managed to have some fun.  :)

One project that needed doing was the addition of a door to one of the barns.  We need to begin hauling "stuff" up from Ohio, and the last thing we want to be doing is re-cluttering the de-cluttered house.  About a month ago I went up on a solo trip, and I built a door for the smaller barn from materials we had lying around.  With some hinges and hardware thrown in from trip to the ACE Hardware store in Rogers City, a day of work and about $30 has us a workable door.

Here's the completed project.  It's a little hard on the eyes right now, but when the weather warms up it'll be getting a good coat of paint.

Also on this trip I took down all of the wood valances over the windows.  They just made it way too dark looking, and what a difference after they were down!  Take a look.

Kitchen Window - Before
Living Room Window 1 - Before
Living Room Window 2 - Before
Here are the same windows, with the valances removed.

Here's what the valances looked like after removal...

That trip was in early February.  We made a second February trip, but this time we accomplished absolutely no work whatsoever on the house.  That was completely by design.  We were joined by our very good friends Bob  and Melanie, who we hadn't seen in quite some time.  Rather than putting them to work we decided to play all weekend.  We drove around and checked out the sights, went out to eat, stopped for a quick photo op by the Mackinac Bridge, and generally just goofed off and laughed a lot.  The coolest thing we did was go snowshoeing at Tahquamenon Falls State Park.  I've been wanting to drive up to see the falls in the winter time, and Shelly discovered that the park was offering free snowshoe rentals.  None of us had ever been snowshoeing, but we were all in for giving it a shot.  We had an absolute blast, shoeing around in 18 degree weather.  Shelly summed it up best when she simply said, "I think we'll be just fine up here."  I have to say, I think she's absolutely right.  Here are some pics from The Bridge and from the hike at The Falls.

Mackinac Bridge
Dave & Shelly
Melanie, Shelly, and Bob
Tahquamenon Falls
Tahquamenon Falls

So, that's it for this installment.  I'll try to be quicker posting on future trips.  It's a busy time for us right now, with trying to sell the house, getting Kyle finished with high school, my starting a new job at work, getting Kyle ready to go into college, planning for graduation parties in Ohio and in Michigan, working on Shangri La to get it ready for moving in, and ultimately the BIG MOVE.

Our oldest son Mike and I are planning a trip up in a few weeks.  We're hoping to get most of the basement cleared out, with the majority of the "stuff" going into the newly secured small barn.  Talk to you all soon!