Breakfast Bonding

Dear Women,

I am about to peel back the shroud of secrecy on that one last male bastion: the early morning breakfast at the local café. Turns out, you may not be aware of the greatest of all male bonding rituals.  Yes, here it is!

I like to eat breakfast out.  Frankly, I would eat breakfast out with more glee than any other meal. Yes, I do love my sausage gravy and biscuits.  Thankfully, for my body’s sake, I cannot do this often because of that pesky necessity to work.

The male bonding ritual is only found though when consuming your breakfast before 7.  Nope, this ritual cannot occur at an hour when sane people are still sleeping.  You see, the ritual requires looking a bit scruffy.  No clean shaven ( or faux grunge look) Seattle types are permitted.  Unkempt hair is a necessity.  Strangely this means you get to wear your hat while you eat.  And in the Olympic Peninsula, seafaring towns, this means a stocking cap of one kind or another.  No DeKalb corn grower hats here!

So how does the bonding occur?  You nod at each other over the top of your newspaper.  Yes folks, that means bonded for life.  This is the true male secret handshake.  Marriage should be so sacred.  Once you have acknowledged each other, at any future meeting on the street or local tavern, you must greet each other as long lost friends.

BTW, it is also perfectly acceptable and good manners to bus your own darn dishes at this ungodly hour.  You see, there is one group of women who actually know all about men’s secret rituals.  These are the fearsome and lovable waitresses who are up at this hour slinging the coffee.

I do love small town America!20160228_065857[1]




Foundations — Albeit Temporary

If you think you are going to go build yourself a life in the forest next to some streams and you are not going to have sore muscles, then you should think again!  I really don’t recall being so tired and sore from work in a very long time, maybe never.  Of course, that could also be a commentary on my age…

Exactly how hard could it be to build a tent platform for your safari tent home?  Interesting enough, a 12×16 foot tent platform requires about 2000 pounds of materials.  And you get to schlepp each item multiple times it turns out.  Of course this is no ordinary tent platform.  Why make it easy?  Instead this is a tent platform designed to be moved.

Why move it?  Well I have some cleared land area immediately available.  So instead of spending a few weeks clearing land deeper in the forest where I would ultimately like to have my safari tent (closer to my streams), I chose to build it in the open area, knowing I will move it later.  Still the view from my new front porch of my safari tent won’t be half bad.

The second key feature was to design it so I can pre-fabricate pieces and pre-finish wood here in the dry and warmth of my garage.  While somewhat more costly, “with a little help from a friend,” we did actually install the entire platform in about a day.  So I am declaring this a mission success.

The next phase will be to actually install the tent.  Of course, the tent would have to be here for that to happen.  Still not exactly sure how I will raise a circus tent by myself, but I will put on my project planning/engineer hat on to go figure this one out.  I feel pulleys and diesel power coming into use!

The really good news though!  Unlike our last adventure which left my leg pinned beneath a tree, no injuries this trip!  Of note, the guys who will be clearing land for the tiny house noted that it appeared I knew nothing about felling trees based on my tree cuts.  I heartily agreed, and they promised to teach me!  I really am not overly excited about adding lumberjack to my resume though.

Even a temporary home though demands a good foundation.  In my case, sliding down the hill into Peabody Creek would not be a fun ride at all.  So lets hope the earthquakes are not too bad!  But, like all good planners, I have  margin in the design of my tent foundation to account for even the unexpected or very unlikely events.



Progress–The Beginning

I learned a new phrase this weekend: “park it out.”  As the saying goes, the longest journey begins with the first foot steps.  I am now the official steward of the land in Port Angeles.  I get some sense of what it was like to be exploring this region since my land has been untouched for almost 100 years, with a few old growth cedars scattered here and there of untold age.  A forest this old is fascinating!  I have attached some pictures so you can get the flavor, but there are three characteristics that strike me: one, it is really, really green even in the winter; two, it is incredibly rugged; and three, the only noise is from the sounds of my two streams.  I really get why Yoda chose the planet he did!

Fortunately, two out of three of these are really easy on the senses.  The rugged part, while interesting in a pioneer sort of way, makes for clearing a home site (even for a tiny house) into a fair piece of work.  Seems that taking a chainsaw to a couple dozen trees ought to be quick work.  Hah!  Even though cut at the bottom a full third of them are in some state of partial decline. Yes, the forest is that dense that the trees are being held up by other trees that I intend to keep.

I don’t like cutting any tree down.  I have spent my adult life planting them wherever I go since generally there has been a lack of adequate trees.  I have a far better appreciation though this weekend why clear cutting is preferred by loggers over selective cutting.  Just try to get the tree out of the forest!  Even yanking them with my tractor seems to only wedge them tighter.

I also note there is a safety consideration.  Thankfully with minimal consequence, yes, that tree did land on my leg.  Quickly getting away from a tree stump that you just cut while the rest of the tree decides to bounce through the canopy like a pin ball is simply not possible. You want to feel really lonely?  Have your foot trapped under a tree in the forest.

Nonetheless, we persevere!  These are the kinds of challenges you should expect if you are going to go carve out your little piece of forest.  Who doesn’t want to live in green forest listening to the sounds of running water?  You really just thought you could waive your magic wand and make it happen?  Would you really want that type of experience even if you could?  Ease of accomplishment is not part of the program.

I did meet some of my neighbors, after a fashion.  They told me all about the neighborhood female cougar, the litter of bobcats, the bears, coyotes, etc…Then they asked me if I was going to “park out the land.”  Turns out I must be the only person on the Olympic Peninsula who had no clue what that meant.  Turns out this means convert the rugged natural forest into a somewhat controlled environment that looks more like a park.

You know what, not in this lifetime. I will not be “parking it out.”  A few trails yes, but I think it is rather wonderful there are places still left that are relatively unspoiled.  I will remove as few trees as possible to build the tiny house, and then we will just enjoy this incredibly green and tranquil place just the way it is



Building Dreams For Others

Although the new tiny house adventure has its own demands, sometimes you have to set aside personal goals for a bit to help others.  Okanogan County is the poorest county in Washington State, and in both 2014 and 2015 this county was devastated by wildland fires.

Foolish me! I thought between insurance and help from the State and Federal governments that folks losing their homes would quickly be housed again.  Well, my friends, I was wrong.  If you are wealthy enough to afford insurance, then you might get your house back.  If you are poor, and you couldn’t afford insurance, well you sure aren’t going to get much help from the government.  And, in case you hadn’t noticed it is winter out, and there are a whole bunch of people in one of the wealthiest states in America living in ramshackle camper shells and trailers.  So who helps you?

Interestingly it is churches.  We leave a lot of heavy lifting in this country for the poorest people in America to the contributions made by churches.  While we can all sit here in amazement that our tax dollars aren’t quickly putting people back in homes after a disaster, the good news is that at a slower rate the churches fill the gaps.  Some churches, such as the Methodists (big shout out here in WA), tend to supply the bucks while other churches largely supply the labor.

I have worked with the Mennonite Disaster Services a couple times now being the labor to build homes.  I must say my dear friends in the Anabaptist religions (look it up) are absolutely the hardest working and happy people I have ever met!  Note to file: never, ever challenge them to volleyball or a game of rook.  You will lose!  Likewise if you challenge the mayor of Pateros to arm wrestle, you will also lose!

This past week, in the winter, we worked on three more houses that we will soon complete.  Whether it was skinnying through a crawl space to insulate a floor, hanging sheetrock, or getting your snoot full sanding mud, these crews worked their hearts out to bring homes to the poorest of the poor.  The call to service is strong!  Working with these volunteers renews my faith in humankind, at least until the next silly political statement finds its way through my barriers.

I am proud to call them friend!  I am proud of what we can do as team!


New Tiny House Has A Home

Well, ok not exactly a tiny house since this is a definition that seems to require wheels and bizarre degrees of deprivation when using TV standards.  The house is only 400 square feet though with a sleeping loft… So, in comparison to the current ranch and most people’s houses, I think this qualifies as tiny.

I found a great property at a fair price near Port Angeles with lots of mature trees (potential old growth in some cases) and two mountain streams. The land has dear and elk based on the tracks I found, and there are certainly bear and cougar in this region.  The property is pretty rugged though.  So if you are coming for a visit, I recommend you do some cardiovascular conditioning first and wear tough outerwear; the blackberries are everywhere.

And, best of all I have a signed purchase agreement.  I have my fingers crossed that all goes well between here and there.  The owner and I meet soon so he can show me the survey boundaries.  Try finding survey stakes by yourself in a forest with decades of overgrowth… Closing should be by mid-February.

The prior owner cut a private trail that connects with the Olympic National Park and its trails.  All possible excuses for laziness have been eliminated. I already have my National Park pass purchased for the year!  However, I may just play Siddhartha and sit under a tree by a stream some days


Attached are some pics of the land.



A New Adventure Begins


Well folks if you found this page, then you know who I am, and you know that this blog is about a new adventure beginning in the Olympic Peninsula.  The vision driving this dream is simple.  There are lots of story lines we live and believe.  We all live in story lines created by our parents and family, our society, our culture, our work, and sometimes even ones we help craft.  I have lived several of them, and at each turn a bit more of me was revealed to me.  So who knows what this latest adventure will bring.  Yes, it involves massive change and downsizing to a lesser footprint.  Nothing worthwhile is particularly easy to achieve.  I am sure this change will involve plenty of bumps in the road, massive ones actually.

So why bother?  Why not just keep living in a comfortable life as a business owner living on private land in a beautiful home with gardens and animals?  Why go to all the work?

  • I am an adventurer, and change is inherent in adventure. You really didn’t think I would just go quietly did you?  Hold on to your butts!  Here we go!
  • I simply don’t enjoy “stuff.”  Actually, I have come to despise most “stuff.” So why live in a way that has this persistent gravitational pull to accumulate “stuff?”  Instead I am going to work on a life doggedly driven to not accumulate stuff, instead focusing on creating memories.
  • I don’t get cities very much.  I think they are great at some points in life, but they are no longer places I would choose to live.  I like the relationships you build in small places, and frankly sitting in traffic stinks.  I want to wake up to the sounds of streams and the smell of the forest whenever possible.
  • Mostly what I like to do is be outside.  I might just wander through the entirety of the Olympic National Park for a few years, and I think that would be just fine.
  • Who hasn’t dreamed of having a clean sheet of paper to rewrite their life.  I have one!  I intend to use this opportunity for the best, including having more time to help those less fortunate.

So my friends, we are off on a new adventure.  Stay tuned for periodic updates.  Did I choose wisely?  We are all about to find out!