In which we buy a cabin

Throbbing Cabin.
Throbbing Cabin, circa August 2013.

Dear Internet,

Since we did not end up going up north this weekend, it seemed like a good time to tell you about our latest harebrained scheme.

The plan, of course, was to pay off our house in Grand Rapids, my student loans and car debt before doing any more big purchases. The house in GR was (and still is) to be the collateral for a home in Europe somewhere, with intent to purchase that within the next decade. Owning a cabin in one of the most expensive counties in the state wasn’t even a twinkle in either of our eyes at any time in the near future.

In a way, that sentence is not true. TheHusband had been coming up to the area on and off as a kid and I had been here myself when I was dating TheEx and loved it, ergo, a mutual desire of the area was acknowledged between us. TheHusband and I have vacationed up here often together, so there was a twinkle, but one of a nano scale, I promise.

TheHusband has a penchant for stalking Zillow and while I was in the middle of my recuperation from ankle surgery last summer, he found the listing for a short sale cabin in Leelanau county for scary cheap. When I got the all clear to travel beyond my bedroom, we road tripped up to the area for the day (dog in tow, of course) to check it out.

I will tell you dear reader, upon first blush I was meh on the ordeal. While the exterior A-frame was lovely to behold, the interior was sketchy.

Cabin: Kitchen

And by sketchy I mean the kitchen, with the exception of the fridge, has retained its original 1972 charm. The entire first floor, with the exception of the bathroom and back bedrooms, was entirely carpeted in white berber and it seemed they decided to take the no clean approach to keeping the carpet healthy.

Bed and gorgeous 1970s carpet.

The loft, which contained the master bedroom, was done in red shag so blinding of a color, you’d think we were in a house of ill repute.

Loft bathroom.

The half bath in the loft was hastily added in later, it seems, for the toilet was not a standard toilet but one for a RV or a boat, but they added in a standardized sink directly in front so the only person who could use the bathroom was me. I could essentially pee and wash my hands at the very same time.

The previous owners did a lot of DIY, but terribly so. They built cupboards under the eaves of the roof in the loft for storage but the doors didn’t fit. They sanded down and painted the kitchen from the natural cedar to a burnt green, but only did one coat. They stained the exterior of the cabin itself but only did it half way up until they could reach no more. The platform the gas fireplace was sitting on had been redone in field rock that was  so loose, if you stepped on it, pieces would roll away.

In addition to the interior work that needed to be completed, there was a lot of what TheHusband referred to as infrastructure work that needed to be done, such as:

  • Repair the well
  • Replace the septic and drainfield
  • Have mold removed from the crawl space and condition it
  • Replace the gutters
  • De-moss and de-lichen the roof and clean it
  • Power clean the deck and restain it

So even knowing all of this work that needed to be done, that it could end up being incredibly expensive beyond our savings, we took the plunge in the fall of 2012 and put a bid in for the place.

After several months of going back and forth (they wouldn’t leave the bear skin, they wanted the modern fridge, we didn’t want the cedar furniture they were trying to sell to us for $9,000), we closed the week before Christmas, 2012.

I had the good sense of getting our Internet turned on before the closing. We had no fridge, no furniture except an air mattress, no lighting except what we brought up, but by jove! We had incredible DSL speeds. Also, interestingly, my brother who is an industrial electrician, had just turned up 4G in the area a few weeks prior.

The cabin, thankfully, is all season and has heat, so we stayed for a few days. Initially, we planned on staying for a week but time started ticking as a winter storm was approaching, with discussions of feet of snow. Not inches, but feet. We talked about toughing it out, but we are 10 miles from two villages in either direction, and while the county plowed our road, we still had a long driveway to worry about. No food on hand, no fridge. We came home.  We scheduled for a local plumbing company to come out after Christmas to winterize the cabin and then we put it to sleep for the winter. We left one breaker on, the one electrical outlet that had our router plugged in for the Internet and our smart home application.

In the spring 2013 we would begin the renovations.

Oh. Joy.

x0x0,
Lisa (Day #37)

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