Category Archives: Farpoint

The remodel continues

At last I’ve got some time to write about the latest in the Farpoint remodel. We went up to Enterprise over New Year’s, and oh my, what did we find?


Floors. Lovely, glorious floors in the kitchen and living room. The tiles we hauled up in December have been laid down, and we hauled more tiles up on this trip to finish off the bathroom, utility hallway, and spare bedroom. Those are commercial vinyl tiles in white and brownish-gray tan flecks. Durable, inexpensive, and easy to maintain.

We also found this:


Sinks, counter and cabinet, oh my! We wanted to keep the old steel sink, draining board, and drawers console. It’s cool and the sink is big and deep. But. There’s only one sink. Rather than beat the bushes trying to find a double console (and pay the outrageous likely price), we decided to put in a second sink. Our lovely contractor managed to find the space to accommodate not just a second sink but a larger second sink, so I got a nice deep one. Then I picked out matching Delta faucets, big and tall to accommodate things like canning kettles easily, plus the new sink has a sprayer. The cabinet maintains the utilitarian style of the house and closets, and the counters…well, I failed to take a close picture of them. But they’re pretty. Really, they are. All vinyl, because…the theme of this house is utilitarian. With occasional touches.

Really, the floors have been our big holdup on getting work done at Farpoint. Now we can paint, hang curtains, and start organizing stuff. So we painted. Hubby got most of the living room primed, and I painted my office.


I think I’m going to put a four-inch band where the colors meet, and stencil something as well. If I get really crazy, I’ll do something further with the closets.

Our time wasn’t all about work, though. We knocked off on one day and drove up to Wallowa Lake.


No ice yet. But we saw deer, including bucks still running with a herd of does. Big bucks with four point antlers on each side.

The second day, we drove up north near Flora, and stopped at the Joseph Canyon viewpoint.


And I am really, truly stoked about our Dakota truck. For the second month in a row it hauled a heavy load of tile against a stiff headwind with wintry conditions and still made semi-decent mileage for a big V-8 from 1999. Plus it handles very, very nicely in the wind. Even the Subaru gets buffeted around when facing winter gusts roaring down the Great Wind Tunnel of the Northwest. But the Dakota? A few wiggles, but nothing more. I swear that big little truck just hunkers down and goes. Yeah, I’d like better gas mileage, but I don’t feel like paying the huge prices it would take to get a truck capable of pulling a horse trailer with good gas mileage. Or necessarily make any more compromises on the power and stability end of things.

This part of the remodel getting finished means that we can wrap up the activities known as “cleaning up the place” and move on to “moving stuff in so we’re not camping out.” OMG, the time is almost here.

Our final discovery was that the little retro table that we asked for as part of the purchase fits quite nicely in the now-opened-up kitchen.


That area where the table is? Used to be where the refrigerator lived, next to a wall. We were concerned about that heat register sticking out, but putting the kitchen table right there takes care of that issue. Plus we can now sit at the kitchen table and look outside. It can be moved around to deal with big cooking projects.

Oh, this is going to be so cool. Happy sigh.

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A long and productive weekend

The latest run to Farpoint was quite productive, indeed. We had to negotiate a freezing rain travel window (both I-84 and Tollgate over the Blues were closed for a while on Thursday) as the weather transitioned from cold to warmer and wet. We did get to see some lovely views in the Gorge, and stopped at Multnomah Falls. Of course, my good camera was buried under luggage so the phone camera had to do.


The other challenge of this trip was that we took the new-to-us pickup with a load of vinyl tile. While the Dakota has four-wheel-drive and wide tires, it doesn’t have studless snows. Pickups can be a bit skittery in snow and ice, and we’ve not really played with this one in adverse conditions yet. Still haven’t, except for ice. Nonetheless, it performed quite nicely, chugging in a most workmanlike manner up Cabbage Hill with a load that weighed at least a half ton in pea soup fog. Gas mileage is not the greatest (a 1999 with a v-8 engine is not what you’re looking for when it comes to getting the good mileage) but it’s a quite satisfactory sturdy driving rig for hauling stuff.

Once we were at Farpoint, we set about Doing Stuff. One Stuff to be done was to drive down to Wallowa and pick up 30 packages of insulation batts. I ended up finding a better solution than spending the day driving, which meant I had more time to work on Other Stuff, such as…

rehabbing this corner.


When we first set eyes on the red thing, we thought it was an old-timey Coca-Cola cooler. But it was buried under old roofing, a toilet still in the boxes, and lots of other stuff. As we dug the corner out, we discovered that The Red Thing is a coal stoker hopper. It still had some coal in it, and I discovered the label–Fairbanks-Morse. We tried moving it around, but there’s still ash in the burner part and it’s pretty heavy even with the coal dug out. Not sure what we’re going to do with it, but eventually…


Coal in the hopper


Before cleaning. I mopped the walls and floor of this area (the former coal bin) and got about an inch of residue in the bucket when I was done (and disposed of it in a sacrifice area where we aren’t going to grow anything).

So yeah. Hubby and I got major basement cleaning done. The goal is to clean it out, paint the walls with a moisture lock paint, and start at least storing books down there.

We also got a dump run accomplished, to gorgeous views.


Nice view from the dump, hmm?

Even with rain and fog, we still had mountain views most of the days. I got windows measured for curtains, because hopefully the floors and kitchen will be done the next time we go up, so that we can hang curtains and start moving things in (we have not wanted to do much with it yet because the tile to be pulled up is asbestos and didn’t want to paint/clean until that was done).

The drive home yesterday was full of “so this is why we bought a place where we did.” Enterprise had sun. But as we drove north, down the valley, we encountered fog, but only at a certain elevation (which happened to include the towns of Lostine and Wallowa). Then we were out of it again, until Elgin. Up over Tollgate wasn’t bad, with sunshine, but we dropped into pea soup fog near Weston and felt our way along the highway with near-freezing temps in the fog until almost Pendleton. After that, things were clear at road level with heavy cloud cover.

Making the run with the pickup was fun, but it’s definitely not a regular long-drive vehicle, not when we have the Subaru handy. On the other hand, it’s a pretty good little working vehicle.

And now it’s back to writer life, and a lot of other stuff. Time to get the week going.

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Another Farpoint weekend–Hat Point

As this summer that just won’t die winds down, it’s been a good time to not be driving forty miles one way to work. Between smoke from the big Estacada fire and the heat (I can just imagine how hot my classroom would be getting), I’m grateful. It’s still taking time to recreate structure and routines, but I’m getting there.

We did a flying trip to Farpoint for grouse hunting and house business this weekend. DH ended up with a bad attack of food poisoning which was really nasty; mine was thankfully much milder. Nonetheless, the two of us were healthy enough to go on one of those long all-day hunting drives out toward Hat Point with a friend. It had been at least twenty-four years since we had been out there; nearly thirty for our friend.

Hat Point is not necessarily an easy drive, even with a four-wheel drive rig. The road has improved by quite a bit so that it’s feasible to take a passenger car out there, but it is still a rugged gravel road with some long single track passages winding up steep canyon walls.

Like this:IMG_1093

Not the best pic. Basically, that line between the burned and unburned canyon wall? It’s the road. There’s about five miles like this early on, and there’s always a possibility of encountering trucks with trailers carrying wood or horses. That can make life somewhat exciting. However, the road was significantly improved from the last time we had driven it. Much more gravel, but it’s still going to be iffy there because of the big fire in the Imnaha canyon this summer. You don’t get burns like this above and below the road without risking some nasty washouts in the rains.


But it wasn’t all fire at Five Mile Viewpoint. I also got a few stunning pix of the Imnaha River canyon.


Though my best pic was from Granny View, further along.


And then there was Hells Canyon and Hat Point. The road has been redesigned so that it ends at Hat Point with a nice picnic area. You can climb sixty feet up into the lookout tower, which gives some stunning views of Hells Canyon, Snake River, and the Wallowa country…or it would if there weren’t a few fires around.

IMG_1192IMG_1195IMG_1204IMG_1198IMG_1207 Pictures–Hat Point fire lookout tower–I hiked 60 feet to that platform. Easier than the Arc d’Triomphe, even at 7,000 feet. We spotted several jet boats and rafters cruising down the Snake River, though it took binoculars to pick out the rafters.  The others are pretty much self-explanatory.

On the way back, we went out to Cyuse Flat (no, I don’t know why the “a” is dropped but that’s the usage). Friend and I hiked it to kick up grouse, plus we investigated an old barn and line cabin. Gorgeous stuff, but way too many pix. I got some good pix for later writing reference. But here’s a shot of Cyuse.


It’s a big, wide flat on top of a long ridge, full of native grasses and some introduced timothy. We poked around an old cabin and barn and I got lots of pix. Gonna be writing a lot of cross-genre spec fic stuff with these pix. Breaks my heart (not!). This is pretty typical country for this area, high elevation pasturage that gets snow in the winter.

On the way back home, we kicked up a small herd of elk just above Five Mile Viewpoint.


They weren’t particularly worried about us, though they didn’t hang around, either. After that, friend and I bushwhacked down a draw and shot four ruffed grouse.

On Sunday, we primered the molding around the new windows, visited with a friend, then drove home. Quite a full weekend.


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Another Farpoint Moment


Last trip to Farpoint was about falling in love with the house and our projected future. This trip was more about the reality–which is that we are looking at big things and the biggest remodel job we’ve ever done on a house, long distance. Scary stuff. Plus, with the political season setting in, the worry of “will we fit in?” We have to remind ourselves that we are not, not, not going to be political. Those days are done, and if we were going to revive that past history, we’d have gone to Eugene. Nope. Not going there.

But we also did the things that reminded us of why we’re making this move. No visits to friends this time as the schedule just wasn’t that leisurely–up on Saturday, back on Sunday. However, after a cursory inspection of the new plumbing job, we hopped back in the car and drove ten minutes to get to Wallowa Lake to go fishing. The wind was rising high, waves of about a foot and a half whacking the shore, stiff northern breeze…and on my fourth cast, I caught myself a nice rainbow trout. Native lake trout, 14 inches long, “with shoulders,” as the saying goes.



I wasn’t going to lose this beauty as it hit hard and grabbed the hook deep. So there was that.

Then, the next morning, we hopped in the car after a camp breakfast of cinnamon rolls and cruised out Thomason Meadows toward Zumwalt and the Findley Buttes. We saw a big herd of deer sunning themselves on one slope. Lots of Western Meadowlarks and Mountain Bluebirds singing. Several falcons. Good pix, some of which may make their way into the Andrews Ranch book. Gorgeous mountain views, some of which will make their way into a book. Saw a small herd of what probably were bucks making their way over a ridge. And we encountered a large cow-calf herd getting driven from winter pasture to summer pasture. We drove halfway through until we came to an unmounted human and asked for directions, then strategically parked to block an open gate to keep the stragglers from trying to duck off to the side.

I didn’t take any pictures. The herd was skittery enough as they were, and the cowpunchers (male and female) were working them slow, trying to keep the calves mothered up. It was easy to spot the wise older and calmer cows as they kept their calves close and paced themselves so that calf didn’t get tired and fall back. But there were anxious younger and hotter-tempered cows who’d take off ahead, then remember their calves, and start bellowing and backtracking. Meanwhile, the cowpunchers had a tight little group of outpaced, separated calves marching down a ditch. You could see which calves would probably make the nervous, hotter adults based on their reactions, too.

Except for one mule with a 7-shank curb, all the horses were ridden in snaffles with slobber straps (one rider had bit chains instead of a strap). I finally got to see the slobber strap in proper use.

(deletion of horse tool-specific rantage)

Anyway, the reality of the house set in on this trip. It has nice bones, but it is a converted boiler shack that became a family home that became a retiree’s last place. What upgrades there are were put in to make the last resident comfortable. Now…it needs more.


The ancient dishwasher is gone as part of the plumbing reforms. We’re now talking about putting in a second sink there. The next step is new windows and new flooring in the kitchen and living room, as well as wall removal. Then….we keep going back and forth about upgrading the tiny bathroom and creating two master suites. That piece may be gravy, but the bathroom needs something.

It feels overwhelming. But we take a deep breath and keep on plugging, a little bit at a time.

In two months we won’t have the constraints that keep us to these short two-day trips (my job, primarily). We can make these into three day trips during the summer, and take longer trips during the off season when the schedule works better for DH.

Meanwhile, the other cool thing about the 700 mile round trip is that we get to see critters. Four big rams with huge horns posed by I-84 near the John Day river. The flock of turkeys on the hillside above Elgin. 8-10 eagles on the river through the Gorge. All sorts of other raptors. And lots of deer and Canadian geese. Plus the pileated woodpecker that flew in front of the car going over Tollgate.

I drove that trip in 5 3/4th hours coming home, 6 hours plus (with stops) on the way up–and Addie-the-car got 30.9 mpg on the way back, with a little wind assist. No big stops on the way home, just to get gas in Hood River (which was as expensive as buying gas in the County! Yikes!). Got the doctor letter which confirms arthritis in my thumb.

Sigh. Back to the current reality.

Two more months.

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