Tuesday, July 10, 2018

South Fork End Of The Lake - Part 2

It was just like flipping a switch.
On July 4 it got warm.
And right after that it got hot.
And then it stayed hot.
We moved into our new home last Friday and it was sunny and 95 degrees.
It has been in the mid-upper 90s every day since then and I am already over it.
This Norwegian girl doesn't do heat very well.
Thank goodness that LC found a huge swamp cooler.
We needed a big one to keep a 1650 sq foot home cool, and he found one on a local Face Book classified site just in time.
It keep the house at 68 degrees and that works fine for both of us............
This is one more section of the South Fork end of the Buffalo Bill Reservoir, and these pictures were taken while still shuttling gear down to the house prior to the big move.
As is usual for the west, the weather was all over the map that week.
Cold.  Windy.  Overcast.  Sunny and very warm.  Even snow up in the mountains.................
A large grassy section of land was behind us, but we elected to sit at a picnic table for a time, trying to wind down from the increasing tension and anticipation we were both feeling about the upcoming move.
Sometimes we both have a lot of trouble dialing it back, and we sat and excitedly talked while looking out over the calm lake and monitoring the wandering-progress of our wandering-dog......................
20 minutes after parking in this place we decided to load back into the truck, and make our way down to the trail that took us right to the lake.
We were above the lake in this place, looking out over it but also looking down on it, and we had no water with us for Kory.
After happily wandering for 20 minutes she was thirsty and overheated, and so we climbed back into the truck in search of water..............
Five minutes later puppy was playing in the water...............
This is the same section of the lake as in the previous blog entry.
What a different the weather makes.
One day the sky was overcast, the winds were strong, and the waves crashed into shore as if we were walking along the edge of the ocean.
On another day the sun was shining, the sky was endlessly blue, the water was calm, and the mountains greeted us with welcoming beauty................
Looking for rocks to skip.
Something he did often as a boy.
Something he even did often when we lived in Alaska, but which I haven't seen him do since.
The man has skipped rocks often since we started wandering down to the South Fork..................
And a dog who has spent the past almost-five-years with us, being a desert dog.
All of a sudden I see my lake dog.
My lake dog loving the water.
A runner by design, by breeding and by instinct.
Still not a strong swimmer, but a water lover anyway.
A sweet girl who wanders into the water often.................
We heard them for a while before really paying attention to them.
A group of boys happily yelling at each other and playing in the lake on a very hot day.
From where we stood it appeared that they had found a log to float on together.
A makeshift boat - heavy, unable to be maneuvered, but floating anyway, and as we watched them LC and I smiled.
Enjoying the sight of a group of young boys just being young boys.
No play dates, or organized sports, or expensive toys or helicopter parenting.
Just boys finding something, grabbing something, creating something, being noisily excited about something.
A log that floated.
An instant boat.
Boys just being boys.................
The back side of Cedar Mountain to the right.
To the left?
Maybe part of Rattlesnake Mountain?
I'm not sure.
Still not used to viewing mountains from this perspective...............
A boy's story is the best ever told..............Charles Dickens

Thursday, July 5, 2018

South Fork End Of The Lake - Part 1

During the other times we have lived in Cody we had bypassed the reservoir many times while heading to both the North Fork and Yellowstone National Park.
It was nice to see the water.
It's always nice to see the water.
But Buffalo Bill Reservoir always struck us as a bit of a barren place because there were few trees, and so we mostly bypassed it and instead focused on reaching the stunningly beautiful Shoshone National Forest and the Shoshone River that followed the path of the highway .
The South Fork section of the reservoir is not like that.
We had visited one place often over the years.
A place with a long dike that effectively divided this section of the lake into two pieces.
On this third (and likely final) return to Cody we found another entrance to the SF area of the lake.
A place with wide open views of the lake and surrounding mountains.
A place with endless supplies of drift wood and rocky shoreline, and endless places for humans and puppies to explore.
A place only two miles from our new house...............
The gravel driveway goes right down to the lake.
There is also a dike at this place, that not only leads to other sections of the lake (suitable for exploring and fishing) but also eventually leads hikers into the hills.
We have heard that it is all over-run with rattlesnakes at this time of year, and since we have been busy with moving we have elected to take those people at their word.
We're fine exploring down in THIS area for now..............
Every time we go out to the house to shuttle a truck load of small stuff before our big move on Friday (tomorrow) we stop here.
A place for puppy to happily run and for us to decompress.
On this day it was windy and cold, and the waves from the lake splashed noisily and violently into shore.
As I looked out over the mountains I suddenly realized that this place reminded me of Juneau.
The water.  The mountains.  The overcast skies.  The waves crashing into shore.  Even the rocky shore line.
It all reminded me of Alaska...................
Kory is so smart.
She already knows this place.
Already recognizes where we are going when we turn off the highway.
We have spots all over the area that our dog knows well.
When we head out the Greybull Highway to see the wild horses.
When we pull off the Greybull Highway to head into Oregon Basin.
When we wander into Red Lake just on the outskirts of town.
The River Walk.
Beck Lake.
And now here.
In the South Fork.
She is beginning to recognize it already and already loves it..............
A place where LC can launch his boat and where I can launch my kayak.................
A funny thing I have noticed already is that when I tell people we just bought a home down the South Fork, they always (invariably) want to know exactly WHERE down the South Fork.
It finally struck me after the second or third person had asked me the exact same question, that they were all asking the same thing.
A few more people and it finally struck me why.
They want to know how much money we have.
Are we simply well-to-do or are we Rich?
And if we're rich just How Rich?  
Capital H Capital R.
Because there is a whole lot of money in this town, and a whole lot of that money is down the South Fork.  
I didn't say it but I thought it the other day.
When a woman asked me the same question others have asked, she added "Do you have a ranch?  Do you have horses?"
I told her we just had a small home on an acre a few miles outside of town.
But what I thought was "No.  We don't have a ranch.  And we don't have horses.  But we've got a double wide and a dog.  Does THAT count?"
We are very lucky to have found this place.  
But we worked VERY hard to find it.
And these mountains and this lake are now ours.
I think that we will really like being here.
More pictures to follow...................

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

We Have A Home

I've written a few times over the past nine months, of our attempts to find a home to buy here in Wyoming.
For the first few months we were here we went through a real process.
We knew that homes were expensive in Park County in general (and most expensive in Cody) so we started out by telling ourselves that we would look in the adjoining county - Big Horn.
Nice little towns.  Close enough to get to Cody for special events.  Close to the Big Horn Mountains.
We looked at homes in Cowley, Basin, Lovell, Greybull, Deaver.
Most that we saw looked better in pictures than they did in real life (some way way better in pictures than in real life), and the closest we came to buying in Big Horn County was a home in Cowley.
Very nice, very tight, very sweet, very clean little house on an acre of land, with a small shop for LC.
But even though it was fully fenced it was also adjacent to the two lane highway that cut through the town, was about half a mile from tracks and we wondered if my store would work in such a small town.
We ended up passing on the house.  Kory was an escape artist.  Wouldn't know to watch for traffic and didn't know anything about trains.
Were those both just excuses to pass on a home that we liked?
I don't know.

We almost bought a home in Burlington.
Liked the home, couldn't get straight answers from the realtor (who openly insulted me and tried to shut both of us down when we asked questions), and there were issues with the home that were deal breakers and which the owner refused to repair.
Walked away and didn't look back.
Real Estate Company #1 was toast...............

We almost bought a home in Meeteetse.
Huge home on a third of an acre right in town.
Surrounded by mountains.  Close to the lake.  Filled with and surrounded by wild life.
We loved Meeteetse.
Had always loved Meeteetse going back to our first visit there years ago.
The house needed some work but nothing major.
Would my store do well there?
There was a lot of money in Meeteetse, plenty of huge working ranches surrounding the town, plenty of tourists through the summer, completely quiet and isolated through the winter.
We liked the house and liked the area, made an offer, the owner counter offered and we said no.
We had maxed out on the price and said so.
We moved on.
Six weeks later the owner contacted us through her real estate agent and said that if we were still interested she would accept our offer.
By that time we had heard enough stories to confirm what we had suspected but could not confirm before making our first offer.
Meeteetse is very "clickish" - money-spending visitors are always welcome - new-comers moving to town are viewed with distrust - new-comers wanting to open new businesses are.........not welcome.
We had wondered.
We had speculated.
We had questioned how to interpret certain words and actions, but between the time of our offer and rejection and the time of our second contact with the owner, we had had our suspicions confirmed.
We met just before Christmas with the owner and the realtors, eating Christmas cookies and drinking hot chocolate.
Eating cookies and drinking cocoa while being lied to by everyone we were seated with.
Openly.  Blatantly.  Provably (if we had been inclined).
LC and I spent one more day discussing between us and then walked away from the house, the owner and the realtors (who were representing both parties) for good.
Real Estate Company #2 was toast........... 

We found a single wide manufactured home on a couple of acres for a great price.
We saw it an hour after it was listed online, were interested, quickly found out that it wasn't really on the permanent foundation that had been described initially, and we couldn't get financing for it anyway because it was only a single wide.
The realtor who had listed the home worked for a small real estate agency in town, was condescending and vaguely insulting (what WAS it with some of these people) and we were glad to not have to have anything more to do with her.
Real Estate Company #3 was toast.
They were dropping like flies..................

In between homes we were also investigating the possibility of buying land and either building a home or installing a manufactured or modular.
The rules, the regulations, the fees, the covenants, the.........constant barriers..........were overwhelming at every turn, and LC and I continued to get more and more discouraged.
Moving on.................

We found a home in Powell that had possibilities.
At the very back of town and adjacent to the college campus.
Lots of green space, church across from us and college campus down from us so the space would not be built up over time.
On 1/3 of an acre with a large shop.
Only............the house didn't quite work.
On paper it should have been fine - 30 minutes from Cody, good price, good size home, good size garage, back of town.
But the house was laid out all wrong.  Small kitchen.  Two very small bedrooms.  One small bathroom all upstairs.
Downstairs one very long and large room and one small room.  Duct work everywhere you looked.  
Weird layout but it had possibilities, and over the next month we kept that house in the back of our minds as the "Back-Up House" - if all else failed it was a decent and presentable option.
We continued to look at homes in Powell.
A month later we returned to our Back-Up House.
More to confirm what we already knew - that the home had more positives than negatives, and we could make this house work.
30 minutes later LC and I looked at each other and shook our heads.
The bedrooms were too small, the bathroom was too small, the kitchen was too small, the downstairs was a mess of badly-laid-out and poor construction, and there was no way we could make the downstairs into a comfortable living space.
After all that looking we were back to square one.
Not only were we back to square one, but we had to be out of the off-season rental cottage in just a couple of months.
Not long after nixing the Powell house (and one more house in Cody that was just a little too far above our price range) we moved into our small rental house.
Over the course of the winter we had finally come to realize that we wanted to live in Cody.
Not Big Horn County.  Not Meeteetse.  Not Clark.  Not Powell.  
And we weren't going to settle for less.
LC and I finally realized that close wasn't good enough.  We may never be able to buy in Cody and if that was the case then we would rent.
But Cody was where we wanted to be...............

By this time we were working with Real Estate Company #4.
We saw this home listed in March and went to see it.
We liked the home and liked the location, and after conferring with our agent put in an offer that was just a few thousand less than asking price.
We understood at the time that we were the first offer, and the next day we learned that someone else had gotten the house.
We were a little disappointed but not devastated.
By this time we were settled into the rental so there was no rush now (unlike the time constraint we had been under with the off-season cottage).
We finally had complete clarity in terms of where we wanted to live, and stopped looking all over two counties for a house to buy.
And neither of us were emotionally invested in this home.  
Too many people were battling over too few affordable homes, so both LC and I recognized that the chances of finding a home we could afford and live with was low.
Add to that the increasing suspicion we had that the system was "rigged" - rich and connected people wanting to buy investment properties, or homes for their grown kids.
We had seen many older homes posted over the previous months, that were in very bad condition.
 Without exception those homes had been purchased with cash as investment properties for the well-to-do.
Regardless, someone else had gotten this home.  We immediately put it out of our minds and forgot about it..................

Six weeks later we got a call from our real estate agent.
The sale had fallen through and the home was back on the market.
An hour later we saw it.  A few hours later we made an offer of full asking price (and still firmly believed that someone else would pay higher than asking).
Our offer got in first.  
The next morning our real estate agent called to say that they had accepted our offer...................
It is a manufactured home on a permanent foundation.
1650 sq feet.
4 bedrooms.
Two full baths.
With a 750 sq foot shop.
On an acre.
Three miles from the lake in one direction.
Two miles from the lake in another direction.
Surrounded by mountains.
Ten minutes from Cody.
We are very excited.
We have begun shuttling a lot of small things over to the house already, and our big move is this Friday.
Just a few pictures.
I will take more as we get settled..................
Small deck on the front.
Small deck on the back (view from the back).
We'll have to extend at least the back deck at some point.
The other exterior pictures are views from different windows in the house..............
After we moved out of the house in Idaho we spent a few days in a motel before crossing over into Wyoming.
Spent a week camping on BLM land.
Spent just over a week in a motel in Meeteetse.
Spent almost 4 months in a 400 sq foot off-season cottage in downtown Cody.
Spent just over 5 months in a 850 sq foot house in Cody.
And now we are moving into this house.
Through it all Kory has been amazing.  
Both LC and I worried how she would fare through so many changes but she has come out on the other side of this very well adjusted.
She is fully bonded to us, we have taken great pains to keep her food, her runs, her walks, her treats, her sleeping places and our attention to her consistent.  
On the day I took this picture the new house received the Puppy Seal of Approval...............
Views from the front of the house..............
 Will post some pictures of the lake next blog..............

What I love most about my home is who I share it with............Author Unknown