• April 2001-We turn our property into a campsite

    by  • April 7, 2001 • Home Building, Our diary-the first five years, Spring

    This is a transcript of the diary I kept during the first years of our transition to the mountains. We had lived in Orange County, CA for the past 20 years and decided to check out property in Bass Lake, CA where we had vacationed for several years.

    Jolie, broken in body only, not in spirit

    Easter vacation and we’re able to spend a whole week on our new property.  Jolie is on her feet, hobbling around, and Maddi visits a few days with her dad.  The responses we’ve gotten from the kids are mixed.  Greg and Jolie like the idea, Jolie realizes that she will probably be on her own by the time we move.  Madeline doesn’t want to hear anything about it, swears she’ll never go up there.  Too threatening to the status quo I guess.  Bob wants to hunt deer!

    We arrive with several objectives.  I want to build a table of redwood somewhere, rake out the goat shed, attached the wooden goat I found on eBay and see a deer – on our land.  My husband just wanted to be there and camp there with our trailer.  Marcie and Don had promised a BBQ.

     As we climb the hill on Rd 200, it started to snow …surprising and fascinating. We had seen cars coming from North Fork with snow on top, but thought they were coming from Yosemite or somewhere high.  First thing, we met our neighbor on the circle, Renota, who came out in the now and offered us her driveway to park the trailer.  No, we wanted to camp on the house site and made it gingerly down the long 500 ft driveway.

    Truck stuck

    Truck stuck

    But, driving on the way back up to get groceries, we did get the Suburban stuck in the mud–so badly that Renota’s husband Paul’s daughter’s ex-husband’s brother had to come out with his 4 wheel drive tow truck to pull us out. I starred, amazed, at my husband, who had to use my flowered granny reading glasses while calling the tow truck from the Rich’s kitchen. First impressions! Paul made us grilled cheese and mayonnaise sandwiches while we waited.

     The week was a dream.  We became instantly friends with Marcie, Don, Paul and Renota.  We had several dinners with them.  We also met Ed and his wife Mary and had them over to see our place.

    Command Post
    Command Post Table, named by the neighbors

    To one who has been long in city pent,
    ‘Tis very sweet to look into the fair
    And open face of heaven, to breathe a prayer
    Full in the smile of the blue firmament.
    ~ John Keats ~

    With the weather so wet, I saw my plans for the table dim, but the soil was very workable and on our anniversary, the 10th, I finished the redwood table, dubbed by the neighbors as the “The Command Post”, with Larry helping with the screws. It’s on a rise  above where the house is planned next to the three tall pines.  I lopped off some low branches around the table and around a huge mossy rock that should end up by our bedroom.  Should be a cool place to sit in the summer.  I wonder if there are lots of bugs or gnats here to bother us.

    My hausband used the chainsaw to cut up some of the downed branches.

    In February this year, they had a ‘50 year’ snow storm in North Fork and were without water, electricity or heat for three days.  When I called at the time, Marcie she was heating water for a bath, their first in four days.  They lost 100 trees from the weight of the snow on their place.

    We are lucky; only 4 or 5 branches are down at our place.  We roped Ed Mann into helping us with our first burn pile, him being a retired fire battalion chief.  He sprayed our green branches with diesel and really showed us how to use a chainsaw!  We downed 4-5 trees and burned them and the next day he brought his pump to drain the pond which will now be leveled.

    We had talked the day before with Dick, the grader.  He gave us an estimate and advised us to set a time within a month if we planned to grade this year.  We did.  Russ brought his tractor out to scrape our driveway and said we may only need gravel to stabilize it.  We also moved a drainage ditch with his help.

    The sun rose over the mountain at 7:30 each morning and each day was wonderful.

    The highlight was the BBQ the night before we left-my husband invited Ed, Mary and Russ and we squeezed everyone around Marcie’s table.  Didn’t see a deer though.  I probably slept too late.


    Sue Langley, a passionate gardener and photographer lives and gardens with her husband and Corgi, Maggie on 7 acres just south of Yosemite, Zone 7 at 3000 feet. She also manages the Flea Market Gardening Facebook page and website.