A week at The Cabin

Back home again after a long short week at the cabin.

It will just about take you a week to read this long-ass post.

Crew: Mom & Dad, Barney the dog and me.

Weather: Flee high 90’s @ home, arrive 11 pm-ish in the cool, piney dark.

Checked out the devastation from the June wildfire. Due to the dedication and efforts of the many different fire fighter agencies and some good luck with wind direction our property escaped any damage. A few degrees difference in direction or wind speed and it could have had a very different outcome. Jack Pine forest is made to burn, and baby, it burned, right down to the sand.

At about a month after the fire, the grass and ferns are already blanketing the ground. I took a walk one evening along part of the new fire line that was bulldozed through the pine plantation.  Quite a contrast in just a few feet between the living, green pines and the lichen/fern/berry groundcover on one side and the shriveled black and brown cinders on the other. In the quiet, all around me, I could hear an odd, continuous, …chewing sound. Looking closer at the bases of the burned trees, you can see white piles of wood shavings. Some insect in what must be mind boggling numbers is already busily munching away on every single fire-killed tree.

Otherwise, we didn’t take any of our usual long drives or even go out to eat.  Grocery shopped once and brought enough food from home to keep us going. Saw a tiny 8 foot sit-on-top kayak on sale at the Grayling ‘K Marts’ on our first trip to town for $149. Mom said “Buy it!”, but I resisted. All week long she kept mentioning it, so when we went to town again to do laundry we took a second look. Good things come to those who wait because the price had dropped to $133 and the paddle was knocked down to $20. Sold! We’ve been talking about getting one or two yaks for the cabin so that we can stop renting them if the canoes can’t hold everyone. The kicker was that they didn’t have backrests unless you ordered them from the manufacturer. (turns out they were another $40) With that, the paddle, and taxes, it kicked the total back up just a little north of $200. Pretty much the going rate, I guess. Saved rental fees will make it up over time so ‘it’s all good’. For some reason I failed to take a pic of it but you know what they look like.

UPDATE: Sister One sent photo of second one that they picked up courtesy of Sister and and Brother-In-Law Two. Second verse, same as the first.

Our propane woes are now hopefully done; now renting an 124 gallon pig that the gas company comes out to fill. Previously we had four 100 pound tanks that had to be brought into town to be refilled. Easy enough if you happened to have a pickup truck, since they changed the rules to a requirement that the tanks could only be transported upright and outside the passenger compartment of any vehicle. Not so easy to do in a car or SUV. Now a refill is just a (cell) phone call away. It’s now one tan tank hidden behind the red barn instead of four silver tubes smack dab in front of the cabin. Looks good! Thanks go out to Sister and Brother-In-Law Three for ‘researching our propane options’ (read this in Hank Hill’s voice) and getting some cement pads to set the tank on. Also to Nephew Two for being there and helping with the installation. Looks good! For some reason I failed to take a pic of it but you know what they look like.

Other jobs done:

Trim fallen trees off of the live ones they landed on.

Add fallen limbs and brush to riverbank to slow erosion and discourage foot/dog traffic. Needs more, more more. Would love to get a few truckloads of cobblestone and ‘rip-rap’ the worst areas. The trout and I would prefer the sand stays on the riverbank and out of the spawning beds.

Cleaned out dry well near front door- dug half a wheelbarrow’s worth of what passes for topsoil out of it. Replaced screen on top grate and reset front walk stones in a bed of gravel. they’d settled a little since the gas line installation so I re-sloped them towards the drain. We’ll see how it works over time.

Moved some baby white pines out of stomping danger onto the riverbank. Have to get the next generation of trees going now; plus it should help hold onto the soil just a little longer.

Broomed off an incredible amount of dust, soot, and pollen from the outside surface of the log walls. Lots of fun on a still, hot day. Our last application of varnish came shining through once I removed the dust. Should be good for another couple years. It usually works out to about every four years until it needs a recoat. Took note of suspicious insect activity as I went and came back with my trusty can of Raid followed with a caulk gun to seal the checks in the logs and the boreholes. You can never stop the assault by nature on log cabins but you can slow it down.

Blew pine needles that collect in the roof valleys off. Leaf blowers are noisy but much easier on shingles than rakes or brooms. Our vintage 2001 shingles still look decent; starting to show just a bit of age. Some moss and lichen starting again where the oaks overhang. Should probably look into a little preventative medicine before it gets out of hand.

Raked and power-broomed the pea gravel and french drain until it was clean again. Another ongoing chore, made necessary just by the lay of the land. Would love to finish graveling the west side of the cabin, or even better, paving it with bricks. It would help with drainage, fireproofing, handicapped access, and erosion control. What’s not to like?

Anyway, this is already way too long for a blog post, so here are the photos. Yay, pictures from someone else’s vacation. Don’t knock yourself out!

Dusky dusk; The Manistee River

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