January 1, 2014
I know that I have been horribly remiss in keeping this page current, but to be honest, it's been busy at our plot of paradise on Harstine Island! All of 2013 has been dedicated to finally building our dream home! The interior is the focus for 2014! But here is a slideshow video of what's been accomplished this past year. I really do think you'll enjoy it, as it was quite dramatic building over the gully on our property. I recommend clicking the YouTube icon to view it, and be sure to turn your volume up a bit! (It'll be worth it). ;o)
(Note: This is a work-in-progress).
We spend just about every weekend year 'round at our Plot of Paradise - Harstine Island - so I mention it often in my posts. I mean often. If you just happened upon my blog for the first time and read, "We're watching the seals frolic here at Harstine," you might wonder what in the world I was talking about. (OK, we've seen seals frolic here only once. But we do actually see their quiet blinking eyes pretty regularly, and it's an awesome sight).
We purchased this acre of waterfront property in late 2003, and our dream plan is to eventually build a modest-but-nice home and retire here. I'd sure like to wiggle my magic nose and have that all become a reality, except I don't suppose I'm quite willing to be sixty-something just yet. (Winning the lottery is also an option to hasten our dream plan). In the meantime, we live for our weekends, and it's also our vacation-place-of-choice. (What? Go to Europe? Travel? Who needs it!)
So, I thought I'd show you in pictures just what Harstine Island (our Plot of Paradise) is all about.
This gives you a pretty good idea of where in the world Harstine Island is located. And this will give you some history and background about the island. It's a little over 18 square miles, and has a population of about 1,000 people. It's quite undeveloped, as much of the interior is mostly private and public timberland. There isn't a single store or stoplight anywhere on the island! (There are, however, a number of meth labs, and it's been a problem...) The waterfront properties are sold mostly in five-acre lots, and some (like ours) in one-acre lots. And because this area is pretty remote (it's a 2-hour drive from our house in decent traffic, a rarity), the properties are relatively inexpensive in comparison to waterfront properties on the northern Puget Sound. However, based on tax assessments, they're definitely increasing. (And as a side note, it's absolute HELL to build on the waterfront anymore because the environmental laws are draconian extremely stringent).
So....on with it. Pictures! They say a lot more than words. (Although...there will be some words). Note that you can click these photos to see enlargements.
This was the first time I ever saw the property. It was October 2003, and even at a very high tide, I fell in love with it. (Not real fond of high tide with that lagoon behind the beach berm filling up, but it doesn't happen all that often and I've become accustomed to it). JDub had taken a day off from work and driven out to view it after perusing website real estate listings, and he was jazzed. We'd been looking at waterfront properties for quite some time, and they were either too steep of a bank, too icky of a beach, or too expensive. But he felt this one might be the ticket. So we met the real estate agent at the property and noted that somebody else was also there looking at the property with another agent. We both ended up making offers that night, and JDub had the foresight to offer a little more than the asking price. The other guy didn't. So the greedy owner thankfully accepted our offer. Whew!
After we knew our offer had been accepted, we made a day-trip later that month to see it in the sunshine and with the tide out a bit:
And we found agates on the beach!! (See 'em?) That cemented it: We knew we'd found the perfect place.
The property itself was quite raw and wild. It did have a well (no pump or anything), and a septic tank and drainfield. Some minimal clearing had been done, as well as a pathway/trail that led from the top of the property down to the beach. Very slopey, lots of fallen logs, and TONS of godawful scotch broom growing absolutely everywhere:
The winter of 2004 happened to be unusually dry and pleasant, and we'd drive down just about every Saturday and clear and burn.
Seems like JDub did all the work. It was actually pretty equal at this point, but I was always the one behind the camera! These bonfires were a lot of fun. It was so satisfying to see all that godawful scotch broom go up in flames!
We wanted to camp there over Memorial Day weekend of 2004, so JDub built a tent platform. There is very little level space on our property, so having MacGyver to figure things out has been a major benefit. It was a pretty rainy weekend, but we really did have a ball. Our first experience spending the night at Harstine:
That summer JDub installed the well pump (no small task, and it's state-of-the-art), as well as the power pole and arranged for the transformer. Power and water! Woohoo!
It was a particularly hot summer and the weenie dogs had quite the workout flying up and down the slope to all the areas where we cleared and burned.
And we stayed in our tent every weekend. Here's a view of it from the beach. See the steps JDub built into the path? It's really very decent beach access, especially from the tent level across the gully to the path. That's where we'd like to eventually build our retirement home. That remains to be seen.
And while we worked hard, we also made plenty of time to relax:
In Fall of 2004, JDub won an Ebay bid for a boat. It was a great deal, but it did require a road trip to Redding, California to pick it up. It was a whirlwind three-day round-trip, and it was a lot of fun! (Notice that Big Grin!)
We stored it throughout the winter, and then in Spring 2005, we brought it to Harstine to live:
It's a 1972 Tahiti, with a 135 HP Mercury -- the original motor. We took it for its first spin that spring, complete with wiener dog life jackets. Peanut wasn't especially thrilled with the whole experience.
Here you can see an aerial view of the bridge that connects Harstine to the mainland:
And here is a view of approaching it from the Fast Red Boat:
It's a great boat! Has a nice stereo system,too. We love to listen to the Scorpions' "Rock You Like A Hurricane" with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and totally rock out on the water.
Then we learned that spring of 2005 that JDub's parents were giving us their 30-foot 1986 camping trailer. We knew we'd have to park it at the upper reaches of our property (no way to get it down the slope closer to the water), so we said bub-bye to the tent and JDub prepared a good spot for the trailer:
And then the big (stressful) day of placing that trailer:
It was very nerve-wracking because of the the narrow road and sharp turn and lots of factors. It took many tries, and at one point JDub figured it just wasn't going to work, and then it was discovered that his dad's truck actually had a front hitch so he was able to PUSH the trailer into place. If it hadn't been for that, it really wouldn't have been doable. Whew! We cleaned it up and spent our first night in it that very night:
And from that point forward, we have spent more weekends at Harstine than not. From that spring of 2005, we were never home on a weekend through the fall! Accomplished a lot, too, including a Real Terlet! And then the deck...
We call that lattice thing at the front end of the trailer the "anti-white-trash screen" because it hides the propane tanks and all that ugly stuff, plus it's sort of a storage area. Since the homes along our area tend to be quite nice, and here we are with a camping trailer, we decided to spruce it up as much as possible so it didn't look totally white trashy. Pretty good, huh?
Since that summer of 2005, we have had many many evenings (and mornings, too) with a deck fire and it's the very best thing in the whole world!
Well, that and kaying:
Oh, and sunsets!
More to come....