The Land Has Spoken

Dropped off for the weekend

After we bought our property we still had no idea what type of house we’d build. We’d speak of the “mountain house”, but with no grand vision of how it would look, or how big it would be. It would just be for get-aways and therefore probably a fairly small place. Nothing fancy.  After all, we still had our apartment in Arlington; there was no plan to leave it back then.

Maybe if we spent some time on the mountain––a weekend here and there––we could walk the property. It might help us visualize what type of house would be best and where we should place it. The land might “speak to us”––give us a feel for the right kind of house and where it would be situated.

Unfortunately we couldn’t even get to our property on our own. Not with our Honda CRX.  We’d have to park it down on a lower road, and Ken, the owner of the mountain property, would load our food, clothing and supplies into his 4-wheel drive vehicle. Up and over the rugged old logging road we’d go, another two miles from our car. He’d drop the gear by the side of the road and leave. We were there, totally alone, in the forest, on the mountaintop.

Where to begin?

The first time he brought us up we brought our tent. We didn’t even consider that the ground would be so rocky, so uneven. There was no flat spot. There was no space. The trees and saplings grew all around. We pulled up rocks but more were beneath. With difficulty we stamped down the saplings and widened a spot big enough for the tent. We decided that dead leaves were the best answer. Pile up as many as we could, we thought. We scoured the forest floor and brought back armloads of leaves. We packed them into our little space until it felt soft enough and then put up the tent.

We had two cots, a card table, a foot locker for the canned goods, a cooler, a couple chairs, clothing, cooking utensils, a coffee pot, jugs of water, and the old Australian griddle. We made a small fire place with the rocks and found plenty of fallen branches for firewood. Mark cooked all the meals on the griddle.  I loved sitting outside the tent in the morning, drinking my coffee, smelling the bacon and waiting for a couple slices with my eggs and hash-browns.

This small piece of land was now “speaking to me”––it might be the perfect place for our house, I mused. It was beginning to feel like home.

Little did I know that this same area was also “speaking to Mark”. On this trip he had brought out two car batteries––two very heavy car batteries. I don’t know how we got them from the side of the logging road, where Ken had dropped us off, to the tent. Maybe we dragged them, or maybe we were stronger back then and just carried them. He also brought a yagi antenna and cables, and he placed his 2-meter ICOM-3200 on the card table.

Our first "dome"

“K3EE Calling CQ! K3EE Calling CQ”! An answer came back. Mark had launched his first Backbone Mountain ham station.

Yes, indeed this small piece of land had “spoken to Mark”––it had said “antenna tower”. The house would have to be built down the slope a short distance away. I walked around through the forest. It all felt like home now. My house could go anywhere.

When it was time to leave after the week end, we sealed up everything in the tent, making sure nothing was left to attract animals. Our trash was in large plastic bags. We hoisted them over our shoulders and hiked down over the western slopes until we found our car on the lower road. We drove back to our apartment in Arlington.

But what type of house would we build? We still didn’t know. All we knew was that our little area of land that we had cleared around the tent would have an antenna tower. And it does.

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