I want to take you to Yonderosa, an.....interesting place in the woods.
It's a place where the inquisitive chipmunks come right up close. The deer in the forest walk straight on by with their young following close behind. Moose and wild cattle also forage in and around.
There are also more sinister visitors, redder in tooth and claw. One morning a large wildcat, a bobcat or a puma, brought down a deer near by. It was feeding on its kill when a pack of coyotes came in on the scrounge and chased the predator away before feeding on the carcass.
The biggest and hungriest critter of them all is the black bear.
The Cascade Mountains of Washington State in the North West of the United States is home to the Yonderosa, a perfect little shed with a big porch. The shed is situated on a few acres of land and the nearest neighbor is about 2miles away. The cabin sits on the edge of a clearing with a view of mountains all around and snow capped peaks on the distant horizon.
Mo Miller and his wife Deb started building the shed in the autumn of 2008. Mo had been searching for somewhere as a weekend retreat for about 5 years and this was the culmination of his quest. The land was not too remote, though it does take him almost a day to drive this spot in the Cascade mountains from his home in Western Washington. Importantly it had a permit that allowed him to build a small cabin (or shed) on the land that he could use for storage and 'luxury' camping. He would be allowed to sleep there but as it was completely and irretrievably 'off-grid' there would be no hot shower or clothes washing machine.
The cabin can just about be reached by vehicle, a 4 wheel drive truck, but it is not located near the road. The last few hundred yards from the rarely travelled dirt track is through the trees and across some rough grass land. I wondered for a long time how Mo had managed to get all the materials to his site.
Mo and Deb managed to beat the weather and get it water tight before the winter snows started in earnest. Construction of the Yonderosa started with excavation of fourteen two foot by two foot square holes about a metre deep into the stony soil. The pads were important to be built at this depth to get below the frost line, the cold goes deep in this part of the world.
The Yonderosa under construction. The walls are up, the
roof and porch are well defined.
A 24'x 12' platform was formed by building up off these concrete foundations with timber posts and then creating a deck to build the main structure up from. The walls are traditional timber studs with plywood. That first autumn there were no windows the main purpose was just to get the platform complete and the basic structure up and water tight before the snows started.
The main bit of construction took about a week. Mo is a designer and carpenter and had built many houses before. For Deb this was her first construction project of this type and so she acted in a support role to learn and help Mo get the structure up in the shortest time possible.
There is a covered porch at the front of the building, the porch is great for sitting out and absorbing that mountainous view. The roof structure over the porch serves a useful purpose as well as providing shade, internally it provides a huge volume for storage to keep the main floor space inside the shed clear.
Before Mo left the site for that first winter he had to be sure that the structure was robust. He knew from talking to his neighbors that the wild cattle and moose were on the look out for rubbing posts to scratch their backs.
The shell of the building was completed with light green plywood siding and the eaves were boxed in to stop them becoming the home to local bats.
If Mo and Deb were going to spend the night here at times other than high summer then they needed to insulate the floor, walls and ceiling to resist the bitter mountain cold. The shed was insulated with glass fibre insulation over several visits.
The cabin was quite sparsely furnished to begin with but gradually Mo built a fold down bed and fitted cabinets to form a camp kitchen and storage.
The shed has now been complete for almost two years and now. Rather than think about the next stage of the building project Mo and Deb can start to enjoy the view and the local critters.
If you want to find out more about life in the great outdoors visit the Yonderosa blog.
But watch out for the pumas and the bears. ;-o