mossy branches

August 2017


Brian Andi
Ready to eat pie at Joyce Daze Blackberry Festival

Summer means a trip to northwestern Washington and the micro cabin we built nearly 20 years ago, somewhat before the current “tiny house” craze began. Much of our time is spent hacking our way through the overgrown brush and fallen trees to clear the quarter mile trail between the road and the cabin, then preparing the 8′ x 12′ dwelling for habitation, fixing up the awesome composting bathroom, testing the generator (not working) and the chainsaw (working), preparing the fire circle area for outdoor cooking, watching for the local elk herd, and poking around in the large storage building we call “the attic.” As far north as we are, we have not been spared excessive seasonal heat and drifting wildfire smoke, which in our case is blowing down from the many blazes in British Columbia. The biggest disadvantage of being off the grid for several weeks is that it is difficult to keep in touch with friends, so we hope you have been faring well this season. Drop us a note and let us know what you did on your summer vacation!  ~  Brian & Andi

Wish You Were Here

disc golfThe view down the neatly trimmed fairway from the first tee was bordered by tall evergreens with a scenic backdrop of Olympic Mountain, still touched with snow on the 26th of July. It was day number one for a brand new 18-hole course, not for regular golf but for our relatively new passion, disc golf. We had the pleasure of witnessing the culmination of an 11-year process that created the Rainshadow Disc Golf Park a few miles east of Sequim on the Olympic Peninsula. In searching for courses to play near our cabin in the north woods, we had come across an internet invitation to attend the opening ceremony of this newest Clallam County Park. After years of planning and land acquisition, the past 5 years were spent gouging a course out of convoluted, brushy, thickly timbered wilderness. The work crew included park volunteers, University of Washington students, county inmates, neighbors with chainsaws and backhoes, Port Angeles Disc Golf Association members and even the Boy Scouts! At 11:00am under blue skies, we joined about 40 disc golf enthusiasts to perch on folding chairs for brief opening statements amplified by a tiny generator-operated PA system. Remarks of gratitude flowed freely as we sipped our complimentary bottles of ice water and pounded our hands together in appreciation. When it came time to “cut the ribbon” we circled around a disc golf goal and after a countdown of “3 – 2 – 1” we simultaneously threw a hailstorm of discs towards the basket.
mini disc golfAs mementos of the occasion, small souvenir discs used as placement markers on the course were distributed. Finally, the years of work were over and the play could begin. The crowd needed no encouragement and bright plastic discs began to fly.

Life OFF the Road

July 24, 2017 – Today we cut firewood, turning the split logs of previous years into tidy bundles designed for our fire pit. We’ve learned that one full milk crate nicely diversified between fast- and slow-burning wood is just the right amount for an evening’s cooking fire so we load up several milk crates at a time. As luck would have it, our short six acres has a good balance of conifers like fir and cedar which are know for their pitchy, easily ignited wood, and alder trees with steadily burning wood prized for the tasty smokiness it imparts to food. This morning we donned gloves and brown, surplus store hard hats, mine labeled “Fernandez” and Brian’s “Milliken.” Our big ax is double-bladed (hence the hard hats, but that’s a different story.) We dragged tarps off of the two neat, airy pallets of wood we had stashed away over the past two years.chopping wood

Beginning with Douglas fir and progressing to alder, Brian turned large wood into smaller sticks, swinging down onto our old chopping block log. The dry woods makes a loud ringing sound as it splits apart, like the clanging of a bamboo wind chime. The long, wiry grain of the fir is satisfying to split (unlike the easily fractured alder) and I use a hatchet and smaller chopping block to convert the straightest slices into pencil-like kindling. We do not require tiny bits for tinder; the fire starters we concoct from cardboard egg cartons, melted wax and dryer lint do the heavy lifting when it comes to igniting a campfire. When we have filled all four crates with a blend of fir kindling and alder cooking sticks, we flop into white plastic chairs and take a moment to appreciate blue sky peeping through tall, swaying alders, their high green canopy forming a leafy kaleidoscope of waving branches.

Coffee Chatelk

We only utilize the front half of our long, forested property and a herd of two dozen elk seem to enjoy the back half. Some evenings we hear soft, high bugling noises and the snapping of trampled sticks as they “sneak” down our property line to cross into a neighbor’s open field. A couple of times we have been able to see them as they furtively move in single file through brush and trees. Once beyond the trees and across the street, they spread out and fearlessly graze under the watchful protection of an impressively antlered male.

elk and personDid You Know?

The Roosevelt elk we have on the Olympic Peninsula are the largest variety elk. A full grown male can reach a height of 5 feet at the shoulder, weighing as much as 1200 pounds.

Brian and Andi’s “summer camp”


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