Building Range Line Road: October 2020

Oct 22, 2020

Midwest summers. As soon as they’re here, they’re gone. It’s now October—Covid is still with us, yet our kids are back in college. The past couple months have seen some advances on our progress on Range Line Road. Over Memorial Day weekend our two families gathered for the weekend with a rented Bobcat to clear fallen trees and trails, ultimately creating several access points to the St. Joe River from our site. Now, rather than wade through brambles and over dead trees, we can easily access the river for swimming and watching the boaters pass by. It’s funny, the river becomes more of an amenity each time we visit even though it was something that seemed almost incidental in our pursuit of the property. That is one of the things I’ve learned about purchasing any property: it’s the subtleties that become the most treasured.

Design process on the house took a place on the backburner the last couple months. Ironically, as other industries and businesses faced stalls this summer, the Level office has been the busiest it’s ever been. This workload coupled with a lag in permit/construction documents has pushed the construction start for fall. I have completely staked out the house on the site, precisely locating every room and evaluating views, working around mature trees, and understanding sun angles through the day and summer season.

We do finally have power! The Audrain Site and Wilkinson Site now each have transformers near the future site locations capable of supplying 200 amp service to each house. Our electrician has installed a temporary power source as well, supplying electricity at our campsite and power and pressurizing the well so we have running (very cold) water. The electricity has been a big achievement, and a much-needed improvement to my hotspot and extension cord remote working setup in the woods.

We have also more-or-less finalized our campsite for increased comfort while we are at the site. While our cohorts, the Audrains, have been working over the past year to renovate an Airstream camper, we have constructed a large deck platform accommodating two 10’x12’ cabin tents. A deck between the tents is large enough to fit a dining table for ten, a seating area, and a long working outdoor kitchen with a built-in salvaged grille sink with running water, and concealed storage for all of our cooking supplies and coolers. Getting off the ground onto a (relatively) clean deck surface made a big difference in terms of comfort, and the entire family was able to spend the weekend there just prior to my youngest son heading back to college. We have also constructed a separate outdoor shower stall, where we hang a Coleman 4-gallon solar shower when we need to bathe in the great outdoors. Still on the list: an outhouse/porta-potty. This will be the final “luxury” needed for all of us to avoid making spontaneous trips to the local Dollar General bathroom.

A few other odds and ends successes: I am happy to report that the raised bed vegetable garden did indeed yield some produce that wasn’t devoured by animals. We have large quantities of cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, basil, green beans, kohlrabi, peas, cucumbers, strawberries, arugula, and a lot of very large zucchini. I’m quite honestly amazed, especially since this was accomplished without running water for a majority of the summer. The shipping container has also been organized—surprising how quickly one can fill up 40 feet of space—and now contains tools, our ATV, building materials, and my 18’ in-progress kayak.

Even without the house on the property, Range Line Road has been a lifeline during Covid. We’ve even managed to have socially-distanced gatherings over the course of the summer, providing a much-needed outlet for our families and friends to get away and spend some quality time outdoors. With all of the newly acquired comforts and accommodations, my family is wondering whether the actual construction of the home will ever happen. A reasonable question. But with fall and winter on the horizon, I have a sneaking suspicion the tents might be a little inadequate very soon.

End for now.