It all started with a most fortuitous land purchase. We bought our property sight unseen; and although we had a rough idea of the terrain and water features from pouring over maps, we were stunned at what we found when we made our first trip to our new home. After stumbling through the bush guessing our way along a maze-like network of trails for some time, we finally emerged on the shore of a beautiful lake. A lake! But not just any lake, this was our new back yard. Crystal clear, far deeper than anyone could guess, and spring fed, it made sense why the locals call it 'Clear Lake'. We spent the next several months beside ourselves with joy, elated by how things worked out, dizzy dealing with the reality of a situation that seemed too good to be true.
Our first visit was in May. We began by spending weekends on Clear Lake, leaving our camping gear stashed in the forest, making room for us to start bringing more and more stuff with us on each subsequent trip. The weekends quickly turned into week long excursions, and by early July I had made the move permanently. I left Angela behind at her job in the city, and began the building process. My father and I spent several days in a July heat wave building an 8' x 12' shed, by hand.
Once the site was cleared of trees and ready to build on, we were descended up on by wave after wave of friends, family, helpful neighbors, and kind strangers. All of whom made the task of constructing our house much, much easier.
All of our building materials had to be brought 2 kilometers by water, then a half kilometer over land. We utilized a few of the neighbors boats for quite a bit of the lumber, and our canoes for everything else. By rigging up a make shift pontoon boat out of two canoes, we were able to paddle the 2 kms of water with up to 1500 lbs of lumber at a time. We managed to transport thousands of pounds worth of windows, doors, bricks, shingles, and even a sliding patio door.
The building process was a huge learning curve for us, and very enjoyable indeed. Although Angela and I had never built a house before, we had many skilled builders drop in and lend a much needed hand. Without the guidance and elbow grease of these brave souls, I am sure we would still be looking at a pile wood, scratching our heads.
With careful planning, lots of blisters, and months of careful construction, by the end of November we finally got to fire up our rocket mass-heater.
New years was a blast! We were joined by several friends, did some ice fishing, and we had enough snow to build two large igloos next to each other.