A Huge Sense of Accomplishment

Leelanau Peninsula – October 16, 2022, Written by Jim

In the middle of August of 2019, we set foot on what was to become our property on Michigan’s Leelanau Peninsula. Having visited this area throughout our marriage and, more recently, having worked and volunteered here, we knew where this is where we wanted to be. Our friends Lane and Patti even predicted it in 2016: “Go have fun and see the country. You’ll be back”. They were right. Diana and I sat in a couple of lawn chairs in the clearing…approximately where our living room now is…and listened in silence. Save the rare vehicle on the road far below, we heard goats, sheep, Guinea fowl, cows, birds and the wind in the towering maple trees. Neither of us said a word for what seemed like an hour. Finally, I looked at Diana and said “What are your thoughts?” Her reply? “It sings to me”. That sealed it. I told her that I had one house left in me, as far as my ability to build a retirement home for us on this little slice of paradise.

And so it began.

Once we signed the papers, we located a John Deere tractor to help with our upcoming projects. Our friends Rod and Mary used theirs extensively to build their place, and Rod assured me it was the most valued tool in his arsenal. That turned out to be a spot-on recommendation. We also bought a shed to temporarily store it in, as we were about to fly off to Britain and Ireland for a month! When we got back, we returned to a blaze of autumn maple leaves. We spent some time planning, then headed off to Florida.

And then came Covid-19.

Would we be able to pull a construction project off in the middle of a pandemic? Well, we had secured our subcontractors ahead of time, as they were the ones Rod and Mary had used and had good luck with. All of them were on board and ready to go, as soon as the restrictions were lifted in Michigan. The county was being strict on outsiders, in regards to quarantining, so we opted to boondock on our land with our fifth wheel. That first year…2020…we put in all the utilities and built our barn.

With that done, we spent our Florida winter planning the cabin. We still had all of our original subcontractors onboard, along with a few new ones. We were ready to hit the ground running when we arrived in the spring of 2021. We broke ground in May and had the exterior enclosed and sided, and the interior drywalled and painted by October.

We still had decks to complete outside and pretty much everything else inside. 2022 was going to be “all Diana and Jim”, save the shower door installers. We spent the next winter in Florida planning. I continued our Excel construction timeline that I had created the year before, which ended up keeping us focused this year.

Our last few posts have detailed our progress this year, all working towards the goal of our certificate of occupancy. When we last wrote, we were just finishing the flooring and trim painting. Once that was done, there were a few interior details to finish, and then the entry deck. Lane came over and helped me hang the barn doors leading to our den.

Quick! Close the barn doors before the horses get out!!!

I also finished the shelving in the den closet:

It was right about this time that we had long awaited visitors!

Eric and Laurel from Raven and Chickadee stopped by to finally meet us in person! Fellow full time RVers turning part timers, these two have long been on our radar. We were sooooo fortunate to finally be able to meet up! I highly recommend checking out their blog from the link above, as they are super folks. We gave them a tour of our place then we headed off to HopLot…our favorite local beer garden.

With the inside of the cabin complete, we had one final piece of the puzzle to complete: the entry deck. Mind you, it was late September in northern Michigan, and the weather was not going to be conducive for outdoor construction for much longer.

I popped off the temporary deck boards and went at it.

On went the decking, fascia and posts…

…followed by railing and cement board base for the column masonry.

I followed that up with the stone veneer. It was about then that the weather turned on us. We had FOUR solid days of cold rain. I still needed to grout the stone, finish the stairs, wrap the posts and establish a landing below the stairs…all required for occupancy. I had a medical appointment in Detroit that I was going to do a one day down-and-back and I said “time out”. We needed a break. So we made a trip of it and saw our new great nephew!

Oh, yeah….it doesn’t get much better than that! Say hello to Drew!

His Grandpa Doug sure thinks he’s the bee’s knees!

Once we got back from the Motor City, we were fresh and ready to go!

In my hand, I hold the last screw…the Golden Spike on our personal transcontinental railroad!

A few days later, we were ready for our inspection! He showed up and gave it a good once over. He walked out on the big deck and said “This is the best room in the house!”, all the while tugging on the rock-solid railing to see if it moved. It did not budge. He signed off on the final inspection and our three year journey was complete!

A huge sense of accomplishment!

We, of course, still have a lot to do next year. Landscaping, moving our stuff up from our storage room in Grand Rapids and many other little odds and ends. All of it can be done at our pace, with plenty of play time interspersed between our chores. Time to enjoy the fruits of our labor!

Afterwards, Patti and Lane had us over for dinner to celebrate 🙂

Two wonderful friends right there! Yep, guys…we came back!

With that, let us formally introduce you to our home:


We will continue to travel and blog in our shoulder seasons, so we hope you follow along on exploRVistas with us. Until next time, safe and happy travels to all!

32 thoughts on “A Huge Sense of Accomplishment”

  1. You did it!!!! Your home is absolutely gorgeous, down to every last detail. I’m still in awe of your skills. We’re so glad that we got to see your beautiful place in person. Even more, we’re happy that we finally got to meet you in person, and we hope to see you two again sometime soon.

    You made a great decision to leave town during those four miserably cold and wet days. We were in Traverse City, as you know, and it was absolutely terrible, LOL. And of course, it was completely out-of-character for that time of year. Glad we got to see you before the storm descended.

    P.S. I love what Diana said, “This place sings to me.” 🙂 Beautiful photo of your new home in the fall colors!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations!!! You did it! And it is spectacular. Your header photo (and ending photo) with the fall colors and the house view with those beautiful windows is a winner. I have so enjoyed watching the house grow from your empty lot to now. What a project. You two must just pinch yourself when you look at what you’ve accomplished. So glad you finally met Laurel and Eric. They are just the best people. Enjoy a little rest now. Safe travels!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s exactly it, Pam…it is hard to believe we pulled it off! Especially when you consider the circumstances with the supply chain. I really do have to give a HUGE shoutout to David, Darren and the rest of the crew at the TC Menards. They went above and beyond to help us. I felt like Norm walking into Cheers when I went there. “JIM!!!”

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations!  Well done!  What an amazing accomplishment.  I’m so happy for you and look forward to visiting again to admire MapleVistas in person. Your photographs are stunning. Blessings,  Nancy

    Sent from AT&T Yahoo Mail for iPad

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Congratulations! You are right, that is a huge accomplishment. You guys kicked some serious butt the last few years. Our journey is still continuing, going on year 5 but we are getting close. Now, it is time to buy a couple of EZ lift recliners and watch the world go by!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am in awe of the amazing home that you two created. Your planning and skills yielded something truly wonderful. As I watched your project over the last three years and remembered our house-building project, I was always in awe of what you managed to do yourselves. Mo built her house in Rocky Point in 2021, much the same way you did, but at 80 years old we chose a contractor to complete this house. Living in our MoHo on the property through the project, I had a clue what was involved in what you two did for yours. Just amazing. On another note, lucky you to see Laurel and Eric, two of my favorite people. We tried to get our paths to cross again while they were in Michigan, but our timing just wasn’t right. So, at the risk of sounding a bit silly, my already high esteem of you two has raised a couple of notches to see that you are friends with people I know have great friends. Even when they lived nearby in Ashland, I was always impressed by the artistic, musical, food loving friends that surrounded Laurel and Eric. Congratulations on creating a truly beautiful space just in time for the weather to change!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. That pic of the finished house in the turning trees is stunning!! You two should be beyond proud of you beautiful home – it is perfect in every way. Got a little teary seeing that last screw ready to go in :-))) Your singing and dancing trees make the most wonderful setting, you’ll have a great time completing all the homemaking pieces.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Congratulations. Really happy for you guys. I appreciate you sharing the moment when you knew you were in the right place. Still waiting for that but glad to know it can exist. Tracy

    Liked by 1 person

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