Time for a new house

Time for a new house
Time for a new house

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

July 12 Life at the Running Y Resort

Current Location:  Running Y Resort Ranch; 86 degrees F, clear and sunny

Actually, the clarity is marred only a little bit by smoke from the fires to the south of us in California and to the east in Oregon.  I’m not complaining, as the skies are often smoky in the west by this time of year.  We have been lucky so far with winds keeping most of the smoke away from us.

Back in March, when I wrote this post about why we were being relocated temporarily to the Running Y Resort, I hope I didn't sound like I was complaining.  Although it was a bit of a pain getting moved for just three months, it also is a rather amazing experience.

In all the years I have lived in Klamath Falls, I have had a different relationship with the Running Y than I have now.  The resort is located not far from town on the highway between Klamath Falls and our old home in Rocky Point.  We pass the gates often.  Just a little thing, but driving by you can see the ponds surrounded by aspens that are part of the landscaping.  Until last week, however, when Mo and I took advantage of the lovely paved bike trail, we had no idea that those ponds were fed by man made springs and waterfalls, surrounded by ferns and flowers, and big artfully place boulders.

The rest of the resort feels much different than I ever imagined.  In the past decade or so, we would occasionally come out here to dinner, to an art show, but never really spent any kind of time here.  Not being golfers, the beautifully done Arnold Palmer golf course was pretty to look at from a distance, but I had no idea how pretty it was when walking the paths around the greens.  I also had no idea that there were so many permanent as well as timeshare residences here.  The extent of the resort isn’t completely visible from the highway, or even with a simple drive-through.

Right on schedule, at the end of June, the EPA relocation contractor had all the bells and whistles in place and Klamath Moving and Storage showed up at our door, ready to move our pre packed boxes to our new temporary home.  We didn’t have a clue where that home would be until the previous Saturday, when we were allowed to pick up the keys and find out where we would be located.

Melody and her family are in another part of the resort, in an area of Worldmark Timeshare townhomes.  Her place is lovely, with a huge deck, all furnished with tables, loungers, and a stainless steel barbeque, a beautiful view of Klamath Lake.

Instead, we are in an area called “the villas” not far from the Pro shop and the beginning holes of the golf course. The are villas somewhat isolated from the busier sections of the resort, and our views from the huge windows and large back patio look toward the west.  We are low enough that we can’t actually see Klamath Lake from here, but we know it is there because we can see Highway 140 as it winds its way west over Doak Mountain, a very familiar route.

Our temporary home is modern, fully furnished down to towels and linens, dishes and cookware, and even a bit of decor here and there.  Of course, it isn’t exactly our style, or our decor, but it is decidedly comfortable.   I did bring a couple of chicken wall quilts, our bird collage from Florida and one of my ceramic chickens to help us feel more at home.

We have a large master suite downstairs, and two more bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs.  There is a large area that is a bit like a loft that overlooks the living room, and is a perfect spot for a craft table and my plastic crafting bins.  I managed to bring cardmaking and quilting supplies so I can have a little bit of hobby time while we are here.

We have the bikes on the back patio, locked up but ready for spontaneous rides on the beautiful pathways, and the kayaks are on top of the Tracker, which we are keeping here for the time being.  No time to kayak while in Grants Pass, and the best kayaking is here around Klamath Lake anyway.

In fact, this morning, after breakfast, we made the short 1 mile drive through the development to the private boat launch right on Klamath Lake.  Most of the time when we kayak in this area, we are in Pelican Bay, or on Recreation Creek.  This morning was one of the few times we have kayaked on Klamath Lake proper and it was surprisingly beautiful. 

We followed the route along what is called the Skillet Handle, a natural area that is part of the Klamath Birding Trail, and one of the best examples of natural oak habitat that occurs east of the Cascades.  You can see it as the low peninsula adjacent to the lake in the photo above.

We saw more birds than we often see on Recreation Creek, with at least 4 eagles, several Great Egrets, a golden eagle, great blue herons, and hordes of Western Grebes, with little ones riding their backs.

It was a lovely two hour paddle, perfect way to start the day.  We were on the water by 9 and home by 11:30, and decided that in this summer heat, we should be out there no later than 8am for future paddles.  So convenient, and so lovely and uncrowded. 

Yesterday afternoon Mo went to town for some errands and I decided it was a great time to try out the paved loop path that surrounds the resort.  Somewhere between 3 and 4 miles of undulating and sometimes hilly landscape, the path is protected and beautiful.  No worries about traffic, or loose dogs, or weird people.  Just a beautiful place to walk in safety and comfort.  Kind of amazing. Mattie loved it, but of course she had to keep checking out all the critters that were scurrying about in the grass. I never felt unsafe, except I paid attention when I walked through the shaded oak forest at the farthest reaches of the trail.  Rumor has it that a cougar has been seen hanging around the 14th hole out there.  Coyotes are also part of the world here, but so far they don’t seem to be aggressive enough to show up in the daytime trying to snatch little dogs off their leash. Bears are also seen in the vicinity of the Lodge, but we have yet to see any down here.

On the Fourth of July, we invited Melody and her family (who only had to meander through the resort to get to us) and daughter Deborah and grandson Matthew (who did drive up from Grants Pass) to a family fourth celebration.  It was a nice time, with our traditional bocce ball tournament on the grassy lawn behind our place, and good picnic food to share.

Fireworks weren’t part of the celebration.  There are none allowed anywhere on the resort grounds due to fire danger and for the Fourth of July, the night was totally silent, not a pop or bang anywhere.  I am sure most dogs around here were happy about that, although Mattie could care less about fireworks.

In the afternoon we meandered up to the pool area for a swim, and a bit of sun on the beautiful patio.  The pool is indoors but has big sliding windows that go out to the patio that overlooks the man made lake below on the golf course and is shaded or sunny based on where you choose to sit.

This is a peaceful place to be, with all the privacy and luxury of a gated community without the gates.  I never really wanted to live in such an environment, but I can see how seductive it can be.  So quiet, so safe, so convenient, so separated from the everyday world. 

Last night as I was falling asleep, I was thinking about the draw of living here compared to our more reasonable, down to earth location in Grants Pass.  We could have probably afforded a smaller home here, for about the same price as our acre and the new house and RV shed, minus the homeowner fees, of course.  I have no idea how much they are.  I thought about what I would do if I had all the money in the world.  Would I choose to build a home like the one we are building in Grants Pass here at the Running Y?

It was a bit like the soul searching I did when thinking about the pros and cons of building a permanent home and simply living on the road and traveling.  The answer was clear.  Nope.  I wouldn’t change it for all the money in the world.  Somehow this world feels unreal, artificial to me, separated from real life.  Instead, in Grants Pass we have neighbor sounds, traffic sounds flow up from the roads below our terrace, the water trucks lumber by, and sometimes a pickup will go by way too fast on our road.

Town is less than 3 miles away.  I love the town of Grants Pass, with its Historic District and the Rogue River, I love that there is very little snow, that I won’t be buried in deep drifts for months, and won’t be slipping on the ice and afraid to walk anywhere because of it.  There is something about that little acre, with the big old oaks and the fruit trees that reminds me of the places where my Grammy Wells lived when I was a kid.  The place where I would climb the apricot trees and eat warm apricots in the summer.  It is a nostalgic feeling that comes over me at the Grants Pass home that is not easily explained.

As beautiful and manicured and lovely as things are here at the Running Y, I wouldn’t choose to live here, even if I won the lottery!  I would still go to our perfect home that we are building in Grants Pass in an old neighborhood that was once a walnut orchard, surrounded by the soft Oregon mountains and trees with big leaves.  All you lovers of the hardwood forests of the east coast will know exactly what I mean.

At the risk of sounding macabre, I can imagine dying there in that light filled bedroom, without sadness.  The thought of dying here in this villa feels incredibly lonely to me.  We are in our 70’s, and aren’t planning on dying any time soon, but the thought that time is limited is often in the background as we make our choices.

In the mean time, I am thoroughly enjoying the pool, the spa, the cardio fitness center, the bike trails, the kayak launch, the paved walking pathways, the beautiful lodge and restaurant, and the local market, fancy enough to carry Rogue Creamery cheeses and 70 dollar wines. It is a good life.  For now.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Progress!

Current Location:  The Running Y at Klamath Falls, Oregon; 72 degrees F with a sunny warm day ahead.  We have been relocated here from the apartments until September 20.

Solstice sunset from the as yet unfinished back porch of the new house

Once again, two months have passed since the last update.  Although we have managed to fit in a bit of recreation now and then, most of life has been consumed by the big project of the year, the new house.  I cruised back through my photos to make an attempt to track the progress for public consumption here on the blog and decided that I will post a separate blog about happenings not related to the new house.  So if you want to see kayak trips, hikes, our digs at the Running Y, or family gatherings from the last two months, wait for the next post.  If the process of building a new house is as fascinating to you as it is to us, here you go. Be aware, this an extremely picture heavy post!

We have traveled between Klamath Falls and Grants Pass on a fairly regular schedule, with about a week here and then a week there.  It is important for us to be available to the builder to make important, but sometimes spur of the moment decisions that haven’t been addressed.  It is surprising how many of those decisions must be made, in spite of the detailed contract that Mo signed at the beginning of the build. Several times it has been important that we were on site at the right moment. 

We are very thankful for the lovely, comfortable, and air conditioned MoHo to live in for the times when we are at the house site.  We do have a larger space in the RV shed, filled with furnishings and “stuff”, and a working TV hooked up to satellite, but it can get pretty hot in there in the afternoons.  During those times, Mo will retreat to her small shop with a window air conditioner, and I will retreat to the comfy bed in the MoHo, lying under the cooling fans with a good book or Candy Crush. Internet time is limited, since for the time being, our internet there is through the Verizon MiFi.  In spite of our new supposed unlimited bandwidth, things can really bog down in the evenings, and are still sometimes slow during any time of day except 3AM.  I am so spoiled by Spectrum cable, and can’t wait to get it permanently hooked up at the new house when it is finished.

Most chores at the house site involve working outdoors, although we are waiting for any kind of real outdoor landscaping until the house is finished.  In the mean time, Mo has raked and cleared rocks from all the piles of rocky dirt that were moved from the house site and I keep things watered, knock down the dry grasses with the weed eater, and make sure the roses don’t get completely out of hand.  There is plenty for us to do during the time we are there, and with the temperatures sometimes hitting triple digits, most of that outdoor stuff happens in the mornings.

Now lets take a cruise through the last couple of months:

May 24  Setting up sprinklers took several days.  We have a well, and a complex filtering system that works with our limited GPM to create excellent water in the 1700 gallon cistern.  However, that requires paying close attention to just how much water we use at any given time.  Once the house is built, we will eventually put in something more permanent, but in the mean time hoses and timers and local sprinklers are watering the most important parts and I hand water whatever else is needed when we are there.  It gets very hot and dry during the Grants Pass summers, so watering is extremely important. 

One of my favorite roses, but she is a bit delicate for the hot Grants Pass sun, and as summer progresses, she fades out really quickly

The mound at the driveway entrance is in full sun and the plants have grown huge in the 4 years since I planted them.  We are storing some of the other sun loving plants in pots where they will benefit from the regular watering in this area.

The roses were moved from the apartments last fall, and are planted in a group that also will receive regular water from timered sprinklers.  A few other plants are stored here as well, but the afternoon sun is hot and not so good for the hostas and the one rhododendron I am trying to keep.  This one was a Mother’s Day present from my daughter Deborah in 2003.

May 25  We return to Grants Pass to find the garage slab finished and to enjoy the spring flower bloom.  Sometimes very surprising to return to the house site and find more things completed.  This time it was the slab for the garage, very smooth and shiny.

May 26 Once again we were awakened by 6:30 am with the A team framing crew arriving to add the subfloor.  I can’t believe how quickly these guys get things done.  This was our first indication of just how high off the ground the living room and porch would be.  The slope gives us almost 6 feet of elevation from the short upper side of the house to the tall lower side.

May 27 The weekend was quiet after the subfloor was completed, with the Memorial Day holiday giving the crews a break.  We celebrated by inviting my grandson Matthew over for a birthday dinner on the new floor.  Our first guest in the new house!

June 2 As soon as the holiday was over, the framing crew was back.  We weren’t there to see how it all began, but Matthew took photos for us and emailed them. By June 6th, when we arrived back at the site, most of the framing and exterior sheeting was completed.  It is starting to look more and more like a real house.

It was great watching the crew put this huge very heavy beam in place on the back covered porch.  We won’t be painting this one, it is so lovely and will be stained so it shows up.  We will do the same to the big matching beams that are over the bathroom tub bump-out.

We spent most of that week watching the framers, in between trips to Grovers, a locally owned shop just down the road from the property, to pick lighting fixtures for the outside porch lights.

We made the 40 minute trip to Medford to the huge Ferguson’s showroom  to pick plumbing fixtures and faucets.  The most exciting choice was our search for just the right granite.  We visited two different granite outlets in Medford, and were thrilled to find a fabulous choice that was actually a bit below our granite budget.  At least that makes up a bit for the plumbing, that was a bit above our plumbing fixture budget.  It never occurred to us that the granite would be anything but the various “Sienna’s” or “Bordeaux’s” in shades of gray or brown or cream. At the first place we looked, every single piece of granite that was even moderately acceptable to us was considerably over our budget.

What a surprise when we entered the warehouse at EleMar  in Medford. We found Verde Bordeaux, an incredible granite that has gorgeous tones of green, gray, and neutral, with flecks of garnet and quartz.  I’m so excited about this choice and can’t wait to see it in the house.

We also stopped in at Marble Concepts and Design to choose the cultured marble that will be used for the showers, tub deck, and counters in the bathrooms.  Picked a simple white with a faint gray vein that looks very pretty.

June 7- 9 The most dramatically exciting days so far in the building of the house were the 3 days it took to get the roof trusses delivered and installed.  Because we wanted a covered back porch, and a special tray ceiling in the living room, and because the house has a very complex roof design, our trusses were among the more complex engineered trusses that foreman Gary has used.  There are a ton of incredible photographs of this process, and if you click on any of the photos it should take you to the corresponding gallery if you are interested.

Not only was the crane operator incredibly skilled in negotiating the trees to get those trusses place, the entire framing crew was amazing.  They walked like monkeys on the narrow girders to get the trusses nailed.  Talk about athletes!  These guys were just incredible to watch as they played on the roof, laughing and shouting to each other as they completed the job.

June 15 Framers finished installing the Tyvek and roof sheeting, and the roofer showed up while we were away.  When we returned all the roof shingles were installed and the house looked even more like a real house.

June 18 By this week the house began to take on her personality, with the interior spaces defined, and the ceilings visible.  Gary and Darren the electrician came for the final electrical walkthrough where we approved all outlets and switches and lighting placement. 

 

We measured the space for the island, and how much width should be between the cupboards and the island.  Mo and I stood in the pretend space pretending to be back to back, me at the stove and Mo at the sink to determine how much space we would want without taking away the walking space between the island and the living room.

One of the bigger decisions we had to revisit was the choice between our originally designed tray ceiling and a vaulted ceiling.  Looking at the vaulted space in the rafters was a bit seductive, and we were tempted to create another window up high and make a vault.  After an overnight of thought, we again decided to stay with our original idea for the tray ceiling.  It will add a lot of character to the space, more in keeping with the Craftsman traditional feeling of the house. 

Mo and I spent more time reviewing lighting choices and ordered several fixtures online through different outlets.  Some things are joint choices, some things are my own special desires, and I ordered a very nice triple mirrored medicine cabinet for the master bath.  Love being able to see the back of my head hands free!.  I also ordered a special outlet in the bathroom drawer so that the hair appliances can remain plugged in and cords are all hidden. 

We also revisited the original drawings for the custom kitchen cabinets, which have been changed a bit since the first bid, a change order that is up from the original budget.  Gary has a saying when Mo asks, “How much more will that be?’'  He responds, “Oh it’s just minimal”.  Well, Gary, minimal adds up, so our joke now whenever he brings ideas to us is, “Oh, it’s just minimal, right?”

June 30 During this week at the site, we finalized the rest of the light fixtures that are coming from Grovers, including a lot of LED bulbs!  There are a ton of LED can lights throughout the house that are part of the electrical bid, in addition to all the regulation CO2 and Smoke detectors that will be hardwired in. 

This week also saw installation of the HVAC and heating system, which we knew was going to be in the attic.  Still trying to get used to that idea, but it seems to be the location of choice.  Hot air rises, so we keep thinking our feet will be cold, but everyone insists that the circulation is state of the art.  Also, the HVAC guy said that he has to replace systems that are under the house often because of animal damage.  I guess we will find out, but we are putting in a small gas fireplace in the living room, both for our feet and for Mattie, who needs her warm space.

The last choice for the week was for the laminate for the laundry room counters.  I can’t believe how nice laminate is, and with granite in the kitchen and cultured marble in the bathrooms, laminate is perfectly fine for the laundry room.  I can’t wait to see how it looks.  The newer laminates look a lot like granite.

July 7 was a big day, with all inspections, including electrical, mechanical, framing, and plumbing passing with flying colors.

July 8 When we placed the house it was especially important to keep the big oak on the west side for afternoon shade.  Still, she was a very old tree, a California black oak that is native to the area.  These oaks tend to lean toward the light, and this big old tree had a serious lean.  She also had branches that grazed the western wall of the house, something that wouldn’t be good for the paint or the windows.  Mo hired Rico, the tree surgeon who helped with some of the initial tree removal at the site to take care of the tree.  Rico was careful to only take down what the tree could handle without stressing too much.  She will now be a nice rounded tree when she fills out next spring and won’t be as likely to tip over in saturated ground.

July 10 As we packed up and prepared to leave the home site for our temporary home at the Running Y back in Klamath Falls, the insulation crew arrived to begin that project.  While we are away, the framers will return to put up the siding, and the drywall installation will begin.  Should be exciting when we return on July 17th to see the changes.

If you have made it this far, I applaud you.  As you can see, it is a picture heavy post full of all sorts of detail.  Exciting things are coming up for the month of July, so it was especially important for me to get all this posted so I can share all the fun things we will be doing with good friends in the next three weeks.  Stay tuned.