Structure! -ish!

I left the imaginary reader hanging at the edge of his seat this morning, without resolution. The rest of the day turned out to be quite an adventure, or disaster, depending on how you look at it.

After procrastinating for over 3 hours, I left Starbucks at 12:30 and headed to a Lowes nearby, where I found the cargo trailer I was looking for. It’s 5ft by 8ft, fully enclosed, and cost a little over $1800 after taxes. I then called up half a dozen U-Haul locations in the area to find a truck. One place had one tomorrow morning, another place had one right away but needed it back by 7. It was 1pm at this point, which meant I had 6 hours. It takes 3 hours to get to my land from Redding and back. I figured one hour to get the truck and trailer, one hour on the property, one hour of margin. It’ll be tight. Should I wait until tomorrow? Of course not. I’m down to my last <150 days of my twenties, and I haven't a day to waste.

By the time I got to the U-Haul place, it was 1:20. There were a bunch of people ahead of me, and I didn't get the truck until 1:40. I transfered stuff from the Ryomobile into the truck bed, and by the time I got back to Lowes, it was 2:20. Buying a trailer, as it turns out, is a big deal. There's DMV paperwork to be filled out, and then when I tried to pay for it, the credit card company pulled anti-fraud on us. All told, it was 3pm by the time I got the trailer, but I still needed to buy a lock and some other supplies. I hit the road, trailer in tow, around 3:45, a full 45 minutes behind schedule.

I didn’t get to my land until 5:20. In order to get the truck back to Redding by 7, I’d have to leave by 5:30. But what am I going to do? Turn around? Of course not. What I’m going to do is get to my land, drop off the trailer, and get back out in 10 minutes. Of course. I barreled down the dirt road. The going was easy at first, until I turned off the beaten path to head towards my property. That section of the “road” hasn’t been traveled much, and is overgrown and narrow and windy. My pace slowed down considerably.

The “road” twisted and turned, with hardly any clearance between trees. I had to go a few feet, stop, then scout ahead and remove debris and rocks from out of the way. Then I’d inch forward, get out, and reassess my angle of approach for a tight turn. I inch forward, then hop out to see how much room I have before I hit a tree. I inch forward, I walk around to see if the far side of my trailer is going to clear a big boulder. You get the idea.

It was clear I wasn’t going to get back to Redding by 7. If I’m not going to get back by 7, it doesn’t matter what time I don’t get back by. The place is going to be closed, so it’s all the same. I just focused on getting to my drop-off point. The minutes ticked by, then an hour. But I hardly noticed. I wearily watched dark clouds forming over head. The sun was starting to set.

Then I hit a particularly tight corner. I inched back and forth for maybe 10-15 minutes, but my rear tires kept digging into the soft dirt, throwing up a cloud of red dust. God damn truck is a rear wheel drive. What’s the point of having a truck that isn’t 4WD/AWD? It might take another 20 minutes to make this turn, but there were more turns after that, and a steep-ish grade. If I had another hour, an AWD vehicle, and another person to help navigate, then I might make it. There was no way in hell I was going to make it today before sun down. It was time to make an executive decision.

There were a couple of small clearings on either side of where I was. I decided it was time to ditch the trailer, get the truck turned around, and get the hell out. I was approximately on my property (right around the Southern border), and about 150 yards from where I wanted to be. This would have to do.

But wait, how do I get the trailer into the clearing? I’ve never tried backing trailers into anything, but I knew it was hard. Damn near impossible without any room to maneuver. There was only one solution: I had to do it myself. I placed a couple of rocks behind the trailer’s wheels to keep it from rolling down the gentle grade, lowered the stand to take weight off the hitch, and unhitched the trailer. The trailer weighs 890lb. I had maybe 100lb worth of stuff in there, so the thing weighed around 1000lb. You know how hard it is to pull a 1000lb trailer? Pretty hard, as it turns out. Especially on uneven ground. But it’s doable, and it was done.

All that remained was to transfer all my stuff from the truck bed into the trailer itself. And then it started to rain. I worried about my stuff getting wet, but more than that, I worried about the ground getting wet. The fine dust turns into slippery mud. I didn’t want to have to drive in mud. I worked hectically, and got everything transfered as fast as possible.

But I still wasn’t free. The truck had to turn around too. There was no way I could back all the way out, at least not before sun down. I won’t recount the 30-point turn that followed, although I will point out that I had to hack off a oak tree branch with my machete to make enough room for that 30-point turn. Once I was turned around, I got out pretty quickly, especially without a trailer behind me to worry about.

may land and relevant features as of Sept 12, '09

may land and relevant features as of Sept 12, '09

Here’s the state of my land (refer to image above –red box is my property). I have a trailer somewhere in the south-east-ish area of my property (or my southern neighbor’s property). It’s about 150 yards from a nice flat clearing where I want to set up camp. I also have a cache of supplies near the paved road on the north eastern corner. My next steps are as follows. I’m going back in the Ryomobile, and brining a heavy duty hand cart with me. I’ll use the hand cart to move my cache of supplies from the north side to my trailer. My trailer then needs to move about 150 yards west, over a windy bumpy road and up a grade. I think I can get it there myself by pulling it using a series of pulleys, anchored against trees along the way. I also need to get my generator fixed.

So I have more work to do before I can settle down on my land, but I’m very happy to have something resembling a structure there. The trailer’s more than big enough for my stuff, so I’m thinking of actually using it as a shelter. It’s definitely long enough for a cot, and if I add a shade structure to the side, it should make a nice little living space.

Right now, I’m back in Redding, using the internets at a Safeway (little known fact: many Safeway stores have free wifi). I haven’t decided where I’m sleeping tonight. Campground or Wal-Mart parking lot? Life is full of tough decisions…

One thought on “Structure! -ish!

  1. I know this is a few months out of date by now, but congradulations! You now have a quiet piece of land and some space to do stuff. It’s a big step.

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