Toby and Max visit the cabin – finally!

Max in the window

It’s taken only a few weeks to get the cabin and property ready for the pups to visit.  We spent the day outside exploring the property, installing a new window, replacing the outdoor light fixture, and burning remnants of the wall.

Toby and Max declare the cabin awesome and cannot wait for all their friends to come over and play in the stream with them.

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celebrating dead presidents at the cabin

View across the cabin without the wall
Mary and I headed to Airvill to celebrate President’s Day with hammers in our hands.  We made quick work of finishing the wall demo, exploring which circuits sent power to outlets and/or switches, polishing off a bag of chips and whatever was in Janeé’s flask, removed a section of the kitchen counter, and started vacuuming.  We decided you could vacuum the cabin six more times and it would still need vacuuming.  

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View across the cabin without the wall

ROOM WITH A VIEW: You can see from one side to the other without the wall

let there be light!

It works – it really does – we have power and lights and anything else you want to plug in thanks to Jim the fearless PECO contractor who met me at the top of the hill and followed me down the trail to the cabin in his 4×2 truck.

Pizza Hut lamp we're donating to Mary's house

Mary votes we keep the Pizza Hut style light.  I vote it would look terrific in her basement.

making it ours – without that wall

From the moment we first were inside the cabin we knew we would take down a wall and closet the divided the tiny 360 square foot structure living space.

Of course, Biz and Mary wanted to have a hand in the demolition.

…and where is that grid, exactly?

We set out for the cabin Saturday morning with high hopes that the power would be on.  We had plans to stay all day, even after the sun set, to take out the inside wall and had even invited people to help.  People!  It was a great plan.

Pulling into the parking space (which is a term I use VERY loosely), we were relieved to see that the cabin hadn’t burned to the ground. Whew.  Inside, we opened the dusty fusebox and flipped the big switch. Silence. Is it on? I flipped a few switches. Nope. I plugged in the old Pizza Hut-style light that the previous owner had left in the kitchen. Nada. Jen flipped the switch again in the hopes that we’d not thrown it far enough. Zippo.

Fast-forward 30 minutes, and I’m on the phone with PECO.  Props for being open on a Saturday afternoon, but we learned that the power company came to visit (or so they say) but couldn’t find the so-called address. Oh, you mean 0 Trails Road, plot 47S or whatever you have in your system? Really? Please hold while I contain my shock.  But you didn’t call? No, of course not.  That would be logical.  Personally, I think the electrical guy took one look at the off-road trail we call a road and packed it up.  But he’s coming back on Monday (or so they say) and Jen is GOING TO BE THERE so they can’t weasel out of it this time.

Let the cleaning begin

I cannot even begin to express to you how dirty the inside of our cabin is. I’d been turning a blind eye (mostly because we don’t have any power and it’s dark in there) but after a whole day not being able to see the river I took a bottle of windex and a roll of paper towels to the window. The first round of degreaser spray shook loose 25 years of nicotine, which streaked down the windows in rivers.  After the second round, I could see light. The third round was the ticket — I could finally see that view we’d bought!

Nine windows in total, a roll and a half of paper towels, and half a bottle of cleaner later and we could see inside! Oh wait, look at those cobwebs… my god, check out that dirt… hey, is that jelly? Oh my, we have a ways to go.

you can do it – put your back into it

Except for the most mentally disturbed, most people dislike cleaning.  It’s even more unlikable when you’re cleaning up after someone else.

Our cabin needs a lot of TLC – from a deck that needs replaced to throwing out the previous owner’s toothbrush, we’ve gone through a lot of gloves during our weekend of cleaning.  Beyond the PBR advertising paraphernalia, not much of the stuff left in the cabin is very interesting – all of it is headed to the dump.

When you live in a townhouse, the only hurdle would be how to get it to the dump.  However, when your property sits at the end of a long and steep trail, the difficulty is getting a truck to the it.  We found a nice fellow through the local paper The Delta Star who was willing to brave the trail to the cabin.  After a long, grueling trip in reverse with his trailer, he and his co-worker made quick work of the piles I had prepared.

After they left with my trash and my check, it felt a little easier to breath in the cabin.

Next tasks are to replace the door, remove the plastic from the windows, wash the windows, wash the windows again, and start working on eradicating everyone else who had been living in the cabin the past three years.

I’ve started another pile for them…

getting the cabin “back on the grid”

I admire the folks who want to live off the grid and pride themselves in all the innovative ways they “get back to nature.”  I admire the thought and planning they put into ways their cabin and families are self-sufficient.  There are several blogs devoted to just this subject.  That’s not me.  I have power tools, a vacuum, want a refrigerator with cold beer and a frozen pizza… but above all, mamma’s gotta charge her iPhone.

Getting the cabin back “on the grid” has been a little more work than we anticipated.  According to the power company, it doesn’t exist.

Well, it might.

But not at the address we have.

Our little cabin in the woods is one of the 2M homes served by Exelon’s Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, a two-unit nuclear generation facility located on the west bank of the Conowingo Pond of the Susquehanna River in Delta, Pennsylvania.

Electric Meter

PECO METER: When all else fails, give the power company the meter number

Exelon has a somewhat complicated process to turn on service at a residence that has been off the grid for many years.  Although I appreciate the website devoted to turning on service, if your address isn’t listed, they cannot help you.  It takes quite a bit of digging to find the actual phone number to call Exelon directly – and then once again it’s quite difficult if they don’t have your address in the system.

Several phone calls later with a photo in hand of the electrical meter at the cabin, I learn that our address is “Lot S49” and the power has been turned off since JUN 2009.  A significant period of time without a connection to the power company requires an inspection by a certified electrical underwriter prior to PECO powering the system – the electrical inspector performs electrical inspections that confirm compliance with the National Electric Code as well as state and local municipal codes.

Several additional phones call (thanks Janeé) and an inspector was located that a) works in our township and b) will brave the “road” to the cabin.

our first look

We made an offer on our cabin after a 30 minute walkthrough in the snow using only an iPhone for light and were quite anxious to open the door of our new abode after signing the papers.  The cabin was a “bonus” on our 3/4 acre waterfront slice of heaven and we had few expectations for the structure itself.

View of Muddy Creek

VIEW FROM THE DECK: Who doesn't want to eat their lunch here everyday?!

Cabin

ELBOW GREASE NEEDED

Built in 1963, the cabin was one of the first “camps” built on the banks of Muddy Creek in a new development called Susquehanna Trails.  The original intent of the development was for dozens of camps.  Overtime of course, buildings and structures take on their own evolution and many of the previous camps no longer exist and have been replaced by full-time residences.

The previous owner had lived in the cabin for 25 years before leaving in 2009.  We braced ourselves for a building who’s most recent inhabitants had a lot more fur than either of us.

I’m not sure I’ve ever driven so fast as the moment we left the realtor’s office to get to the cabin (after taking a brief moment to update our Facebook pages of course).  We picked up lunch at Ma & Pa Pizza in Delta, PA, grabbed the camp chairs, and settled on the deck to enjoy lunch with a view – it was beautiful.

Deck

CLEAN UP: Someone is going to need to bring their truck

After lunch we dragged ourselves away from the view to explore the cabin.

There were several quiet tense moments of disbelief and pushing down the overwhelming nausea of an impending project that is possibly more than you can handle.  Briefly, someone held out a garbage bag but they set it back down and we went back out on the deck to enjoy the view.

There is a lot of work to be done – and quite a bit of cleaning.

But hey, we bought a cabin.

DISCLAIMER: Please do not interpret this post as a recommendation to purchase a house, property, car, wife or anything else of significant value without first thoroughly inspecting the property.