From the Beach to a Barn

June 11, 2020 – Leelanau County, Michigan

Written by Jim

Soooo…did you think we fell off the face of the earth?

When I wrote last, the COVID-19 pandemic was starting to make it’s presence known in a big way. We were at the beach in Florida with a handful of approved building permits for our summer projects in Michigan. As time progressed, it looked like our plans were in danger of drying up, as states began to lock down in earnest. We watched daily to see if we were going to be able to make the trek through the center of the country, and we paid close attention to the situation in Michigan. Our wheels didn’t roll until late April, which put us in Michigan in early May.

Our original plan was to stay at our former work camping spot, Wild Cherry Resort, for a few months while we got things situated on our property. Unfortunately, the county health department put a 14 day quarantine period in place, so we instead opted to go directly to our property and boondock on it without hookups. In the long run, that ended up working in our favor. We weren’t even sure if we could make it up our steep gravel driveway with the rig, so it was all a big gamble. Our friends Lane and Patti had checked things out a few days ahead of time and cleared a few downed limbs for us. Below is their photo:

As we headed up to Leelanau, Diana took a 20 minute lead in the Escape to make sure everything was still ok, which it was. I pulled in and put Hank the Deuce in 4 wheel low and proceeded up the hill. Piece of cake!

We rented a porta-potty (a requirement of our building permit) and settled in with our generator. Both Lane & Patti and Rod & Mary supplied us with water from their wells until we could get our own well installed.

One of the first deliveries was our 30 foot long trusses. Dropped at the road, we had to figure out how to get them up a 60 foot hill and a couple hundred yards to our building site.

Let’s just say, there isn’t much a John Deere, some scrap lumber, a C clamp and a handful of bungee cords can’t do. Bad part was, the delivery driver showed at 6 PM and Diana and I ended up finishing at 11:15.

Our next order of business was for Diana and I to clear a 10 foot wide, by 100 yard long path through the trees for our underground power cable to come in from the pole at the road.

This is a photo of that pathway after the cable was installed.

Following that, our excavator came onsite and got busy. He installed water and sewer lines, our septic system, and provided us with a great upper driveway. He also dug the foundation for the barn.

This is our drain field before it was totally covered up. Our permanent RV site was quite low, so he built it up for us.

That resulted in a fairly steep hill off the backside that we were worried would wash out, so I started gathering rocks from wherever I could find them on the property.

Most of Leelanau County is a glacial moraine, so finding rocks was not an issue. We ended up terracing the hill and planted grass and periwinkle to hold the soil.

We’ve had a few heavy rains since we did this and it is holding extremely well. Every bit of that rock is from our property. There is a lot more where that came from!

The sites passed my inspection, once all was said and done.

Next up was the barn foundation.

Footings, then…

block walls. Our excavator suggested using a taller rear block wall, as there is a hill that we would be dealing with in the back.

It got pretty crowded up on our little hilltop a few days. One day in particular saw two cement trucks, two well drilling trucks, three power company trucks and a bevy of personal vehicles. It wasn’t long and we had things ready for the framers. They showed up last Thursday.

By Thursday evening, we had three walls! And as of Wednesday…

…the barn is framed in! Not bad for 37 days on the property. 🙂

Has it been all work? Mostly…but we also have taken in the beauty of our little slice of Leelanau.

We had plenty of trillium in our woods, along with several other species of wildflowers.

We also found quite a few morel mushrooms!

Our neighbor’s cherry orchard was gorgeous when it was in bloom. We have several old apple trees on our land, as it was an orchard in a long ago life.

Stay tuned for our next post, as we continue to finish the structure. We will be doing the siding and plumbing, and will hire out the overhead door and the electrical work. We will also dress up the shed to match the barn. We’ll fill you in on our well story, which was a doozy.

Until next time; stay safe out there!

39 thoughts on “From the Beach to a Barn”

  1. I really did wonder what happened to you and Diana. I thought that you would still be in Florida, but you did the right decision of going home to pure Michigan.
    Wow, its beginning to look a lot like a house or barn!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Mona Liza, we had a lot of people who thought we were still in Florida. Too many big bugs down there this time of year! On the barn: We originally were calling it a garage, but since we are zoned agricultural and since it is so big, we decided to call it a barn. The house starts next year. 🙂


  2. Hi Jim! We were at Wild Cherry Memorial Week and we thought about you guys and are so glad to hear you are well and building in Leelanua. We look at properties every time we visit. So excited about your new adventure! Wanda

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One foot in front of the other, Dino. When I mentioned to our framer the importance of getting the words right side up on the wrap “for Dino’s sake”, he said “We always do. The rain falls from the sky and not up from the ground”.


  3. You two are amazing. How many people have you inspired to go after their dreams? You had a plan of how you wanted to live and explore. Through dedication and work you reached that goal.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice to hear from you and I’m impressed with the progress you’ve made in a short amount of time. This is probably the perfect summer to stay hunkered down on your property and crank out those projects.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So glad you were able to move to Michigan to stay at home with this virus. You certainly managed to get a lot completed on your new home site. What a great area. Can’t wait for the next update! Wow! Your own morel mushroom stash!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My blog roll picked up the April date this time so didn’t pull you to the top. Glad you posted it on FB!! That pic of moving the truss is something else, sure glad it worked 🙂 It’s exciting to see all your work come together. Good thing everyone was able to come together and get the work done so quickly 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ugggh…I know what happened. I started to write a post in April and saved it as a draft. I modified that post and so it must’ve sent out the old date. Won’t do that again! I thought about that truss transport idea all winter. It worked well, Jodee!


  7. WOW!!! You have made amazing progress…congrats!!! We are still here in Florida. Cancelled our summer travels to Maine and hoping to head to the Carolinas late summer. Glad all is working out well for you two!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve been thinking of you two and wondering if you were still hunkered down in Florida! I’m glad to hear that you’re not going to be “sweltering in place” here, LOL. It’s amazing to see all that you’ve accomplished since you’ve been in Michigan. I’m bummed we had to cancel our plans to be there this summer. 😦 Maybe next year…
    Meanwhile, keep us posted on your progress! Everything looks great, including those morels.

    Liked by 1 person

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