Wednesday, January 7, 2009

New Year's Cabin Trip 2009

Smoky Cookstove Haze, New Year's 2004

Ella playing with snow in the front yard

New Year's Eve Burn Pile

Ella and Miller share New Year Grapes

Though a not-so-obvious fact, Drew and I are part owners of a rustic cabin near Trinity Lake, 45 minutes north of Weaverville. Kyle (Drew’s friend from high school) and his family had a mining claim near Paradise, in the Sierra foothills many years ago. Drew and his high school cohort would go there at New Year’s and other times of year to experience the freedom from parental oversight, and to practice back-woods living arts. There are some pretty rowdy and colorful stories from those early years, of cars getting stuck in ice and snow, a little too much alcohol, and a lot of ridiculous fun.

About 7 years ago, the timber company who owned the cabin land decided not to renew the mining claim, and informed Kyle and his family that whatever was left after a specified time would be burned.

Determined not to give up the cabin experience and all it entailed, Kyle hatched a plan to preserve the cabin, so that it might rise like a phoenix at an unknown point in the future. He gathered the fellow cabin visitors on a mission to deconstruct it, piece by piece, label the parts, make drawings, and haul it to his rural acreage near Kelseyville. Which he successfully did.

Then began the process of finding a new home for the cabin. Kyle and his wife, Kathy, searched far and wide, and finally found a location on Hall’s Gulch, a small tributary to the East Fork of the Trinity River. The price was very affordable, and they, Drew and I, and another two partners went in on the five acres of mixed oak, doug fir, cedar, and ponderosa pine forest, with scars of mining left behind. We crafted an ownership agreement, which basically guarantees we can never sell it at a profit, so that it will remain in our hands in perpetuity. (For example, the agreement can only be changed by the oldest great-grandchild among us after we’re all dead. Really).

The cabin itself is a very rustic affair, with one 20’ x 24’ room, with a partial divider to separate the sleeping quarters from the kitchen/living area. It has a 1912 cast iron wood cook stove that we cook on while we’re there. We have to haul water from the creek in the winter for dishwashing and toilet flushing (there’s a flush toilet in an outhouse, lovingly named the “Darkroom”). If it’s raining or snowing while we’re there, we hunker down and cozy up, there’s not really anywhere else to go.

So as is traditional, we converged at the cabin this New Year’s, though without any cars getting stuck, and enjoyed a relaxing, do-nothing holiday of snow play, too much meat, solo reading, burning brush piles, and catching up with Kyle and Kathy and their 18 month old son, Miller, who moved across the earth to South Africa two years ago. Ella was so excited about snow, we went on long walks through the trees and underbrush, following fox, rabbit, and squirrel tracks, eating handfuls of snow, sliding on our bums, and making a snowman. Ahh, the good life.

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