I still spend a lot of time on the Door County Land Information site, looking at our lot's elevation contours (for the ski run, of course), easements, road setbacks ... and just seeing our name legally attached to a piece of the peninsula.
After doing a little more digging, I learned that this picture is taken in early spring every two years, so I got lucky putting some human activity on camera. Two years from now, hopefully, the MVC will be visible from space, too.
Here's the satellite pic from spring, 2021. If I had to bet, I'd say this year's picture was taking earlier in the day, with the shadows being cast to the west (the left of the picture). The 2021 picture has shadows casting to the north (the top of the picture).
Back in February I had an itchy trigger finger and felled a bunch of trees to beat the wind. Last weekend I worked from can-see to can't-see to clean it all up. Prized timbers were marked for milling, and Tim Bittorf of Bluffside Services (920-495-8482) is taking the rest away, for wood chips and toilet paper.
It may not look like it, but we're getting close to having Nick's team at Lily Bay Sand & Gravel — the winners of the sitework bids — come to scrape the building site and remove all the stumps. They won't be thrilled, but I'll be onsite for that, grabbing as many unearthed stones as possible for our foundation and patio. Lots more to come soon.
The MVC (Minimum Viable Cottage) is part of an 8-lot development called High Bluff Estates.
We're not crazy about the "Estates" part, though anything more than 5 acres is an "estate" in Door County, Wisconsin.
"High Bluff" makes sense since these lots are on one of the highest points in the county.
Anyhow, I signed up to design the logo for this tiny development, and here's what I came up with (which was approved during the 4/19 HOA meeting).
Wait. Before I show it, I should note the objectives:
Legible on signage
Highlight the Niagara Escarpment
Highlight the highness of HBE compared to the other Door County bluff sites (hence the name).
With some imagination, show the surrounding area and even the eight building sites.
Surprise and delight, with an element not everyone will see at first, but will say "Ahhh." when they see it later.
Here's a description of each part of the logo. Very little of this will make sense if you're unfamiliar with the area. Even if you are familiar with the area you need to use your imagination as I've taken some liberties with the overall elevation (i.e., it's not to scale).
The logo has already appeared on our inaugural annual HOA billing statement, and will next show up on signage: I'm laser etching this on some of the oak I've had milled. Can't wait to see how that turns out.
What you're supposed to do at this point is trailer your lumber back to your site for air drying. A forklift loads the trailer. But Door County received a bunch of ❄️ in February that made that impossible. So I used the brute force method that recalled Door County settlers: I hand-loaded it all into the back of the Land Cruiser (4 trips!) and then shoveled out nearly 2 feet of snow in two spots to stack and sticker it. It was just an insane amount of work that had me considering Lumber Liquidators.
It'll all be worth it. It's wide and pretty and there's enough flooring to knock out most of the main level. This is what I'm telling myself.
While I'm trying to line up a well, septic, foundation, and ... a *driveway*, my wife insisted on me laying out the kitchen. 🤔
We have a galley kitchen in our Edina house and love it. So, much like we're copying our current den, we're trying to copy our current kitchen, too.
Somehow my drawing ended up having 11' between posts, and 9' of wall against the stairs, which makes this layout math so simple even I can figure it out.
On the exterior wall, left-to-right, is a 2' pantry, 1.5' dishwasher, 2' sink, 2x 1.5' cabinets, and a 2.5' fridge.
Explanation and rationale:
"Kitchen work line." We don't really cook, so more important for us than a "kitchen work triangle" is a "kitchen work *line*" running from the fridge to the sink. 99.5% of our takeout is unpacked in this space, as evidenced by the wear pattern patina on the floor. (It's at least as patinaed as the space in front of the sink.) Having 36" of counter-top between fridge and sink, with two silverware/knife/utensil drawers below is incredibly handy and efficient. I don't think I would build a kitchen without this setup.
Windows where cabinets should be. On a .25 acre urban or inner-ring suburban lot, the kitchen often ends up looking into your neighbor's living room, so a single window above the sink is about all you want. Even though this wall is facing east (the non-water view), there are a lot fewer neighbors to see, so we're sacrificing shelves/cabinets for glass.
Signature refrigerator. This was unintentional, but the refrigerator is turning out to be a focal point not just for the kitchen but for the entire MVC. It's in view at every turn, so in the drawing now is a ridiculously expensive 30" Sub-Zero with a glass door. We plan on offsetting this expense by doing IKEA cabinets. 😉
On the 9' wall is a 1' cabinet, a 2' range, and 3x 2' cabinets. We'll put all our plates and glassware on 3 floating shelves made from some of the trees I cut down.
Explanation and rationale:
Baby *does* get put in a corner. We use our current range for scrambled eggs and frozen pizza, so we're going with a mini 24"-wide range, sacrificing symmetry, and getting it off to the side to make room for ~6'-wide shelves.
On the next kitchen post I'll break down the prices for all this stuff. Love it? Hate it? Completely indifferent? Let me know at email@example.com.
One of the objectives of the 8-day Door County stay was to create a "driveway" and "parking" on the lot so I didn't have to keep parking on the side of the road. And on the 8th day, mission accomplished. It felt great to actually drive onto the building site. It suddenly somehow felt more "owned" than before, getting a truck in the space where the tennis courts will go 😉. It certainly was much handier accessing gear, and beer.
Before heading back to Minneapolis I put all the timber I plan on milling on makeshift stickers so they're not rotted by direct contact with the earth. Even using wood-moving techniques taught in The Bible, and with the help of a cant hook, it was a lot of work. I also destroyed all evidence of any laughably amateurish felling cuts. There were a few decent ones (but nothing great yet). I kept those visible for any stump readers who might stop by.
I can't wait to get back and start exposing part of the view (hopefully in October). I'm also excited about the possibility of placing the structure between a giant white pine and a giant red oak, where the oak would be the centerpiece of a circular driveway, while the pine would ideally sit between two windows on the western elevation. I need to bring the measurements and compass readings into SketchUp to see if it will work out. The results will be posted here.
Our wide-plank oak flooring has landed. I'm not gonna lie. I should've popped a couple of Valium or Xanax — or maybe both — before taking this oak down. While I have been prepping for it all week, reviewing my previous experience in my mind, and re-reading key verses of the tree-felling Bible, there is no getting around the anxiety of felling a 20" diameter tree. Unless you do this for a living, it's big and scary. Anyone who says otherwise is full of shit.
Also, I am out here on my own. 😬
It all went pretty well. I didn't die. I did make a rookie mistake by not making a relief cut before lopping off the first 8' 6" section once it was on the ground, which caused the split you see. I can't imagine making that mistake again.
Later this year it's all headed to Henschel Sawmill, just a few miles away on Townline Rd. It's famous for being the only female-operated sawmill in Wisconsin. Jamie Henschel is awesome and I look forward to having her mill all our timber.
Cottage on High Bluff Road is a blog documenting a house build in Door County, Wisconsin. A more in-depth explanation is in the inaugural entry.
We're just getting started and don't have a lot of channels, but the early leaders for content are mistakes, lot, and view. Many more to come.