Thursday, May 20, 2010

Song of the day

The quiet things that no one ever knows
Deja Entendu

Good stuff.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The joys of crashing.

This dude has almost too much fun filling out the info in crash logs for adobe products.

You should read some of it.  They're pretty good details on what's happening.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Fun with cursors

Check out this guy's other interesting work here.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Land Ho! (Kind of a long one)

So, I'm not sure that I mentioned this before, but last June we refinanced our house to take advantage of the low rates. At the time we had been wishing we had a cabin out in the mountains somewhere. We decided to pull out some money as we refinanced the house. Surely land isn't that expensive when it's not next to civilization, right? Without doing any real research, I chose a sum (which ended up being a little under 19k when all was said and done) and pulled it out along with the refinance.

Uh yeah.... I was so wrong.  If it's got a road to it, people want just about as much money for recreational land that they want for a regular building lot.  Usually you get more land, but the prices are about the same.  In this price range in my area you're looking at 0-2 acres for 25k.  You know, if you don't want to drive hours and hours to get to it.  You really can get dirt cheap property that has only sagebrush on it out here, but it has to be WAY out of the way -- like at least an hour from anything major.  Since I live in the city, that's generally 3-4 hours one way.  Anyhow.

Here we are a year later. Prices on recreational land are starting to fall (finally) here, after the recession has been around for some time. I've been trying to keep my eye on things and this picture caught my eye, along with this [slightly modified] blurb, since the price was within range.

I have 3 acres one hour south of [town] in [the area we're looking for land]. It has trees, a view of mt's, 04 12x12 tack style shed with heat and a rv pad & fire pad. It is 1/2 hour to [popular mountain destination] by four wheeler, fishing in [some] creek nearby. Great family camping,there are no liens on property, I'm not interested in financing it. Please call [someone] at [a local number].

Only a single picture.

Now, I've had a few of these "too good to be true" pieces within my price range.  Just about all of them were just that, too good to be true.  One that claimed to have a water hookup actually did not have a water hookup and was so steep as to not be usable.  One that claimed to be right next to a pond had about 100 feet next to a chain link fence (that was half torn down) to some neighborhood's water supply pond.  Oh, and the lot was also a 4 wheeler thoroughfare and had a cliff in the middle.  And so on.

So, not to let a good deal pass us by, my wife and I decided to have a look.  The owner scheduled a visit 5 days out and we got to wait.

Of course me being me, I had a good look at the picture and a general idea of the area.  So myself and a couple of coworkers took 15 minutes and more or less pinned down within a mile of where this property was.  And, me being me, decided to take the family and go have a look at the land.  I won't bore you with that unsuccessful story, I'll just relate that we found a very nice steel shipping container and a pile of gravel that was one lot over from the actual property.  Close, but not close enough.  Had to wait.

The day arrived.  The plan was to get a sitter and make the outing a date with my wife, but things fell through and we ended up taking the entire family.  Which ended up being a good thing.  The kids enjoyed the scenery and liked the property.  Though my 2 oldest have had the attitude for about 6 months of "What's the problem?  If you want land why don't you just pick some and buy it already?"  Heh.  Little do they know I had WANTED to do that, but I can't afford anything I get to pick like that.  Try explaining that to a 6 and 8 year old though.  Anyhow.

The property was very reasonable, and though not perfect, definitely great for us and our price range.  We committed to buy first thing in the morning the day after we looked at it.  Not 30 minutes after we did the guy who saw it previously called to make an offer.  Just in the nick of time.  All we're waiting on is the title company clearing the deed (which should be clear), and the ETA on that is tuesday by the latest.  Still, if all goes well then we will be purchasing this land.


Edit:  It is a done deal, papers are signed and I'm out a big chunk of money.

I better start posting some pictures, that's what this internet thing is all about right?  I took them with my iPhone, but I'm pretty impressed at the quality.  I don't usually use my phone for anything other than impromptu snapshots.  So, first thing's first, right out of the car we see the fire pit and the shed.

It's nice that the shed is back in the trees some and has been stained/painted relatively recently.  A little green poking up through the gravel, but since we're in a desert I'm not terribly worried about that.  So far so good.

Off to the right a bit is the "RV pad".  The guy explains that he pulled his RV up to it and pulled his awning over the pad.  The fence there is a wind block, he put his BBQer on the far side of it.  The RV pad also has two metal rings embedded that he used to keep his dogs tied up to.  The one near the fence will probably be the BBQ shackle if we end up putting one up there.  I wouldn't exactly call that an RV pad since I coudln't park one on it, but I   don't have an RV so I don't really care.  I'm not sure I'm in love with the rocks along the gravel either but it's tidy and looks pretty ok.  And very changeable if we'd like.

I do like the big trees even if Juniper isn't my first choice.  Mature trees are a plus.  He mentioned that he cut down 3 and a half trees to the west of the fire pit for the distant view.  (The half tree was so he could "sit next to the firepit and have a good view of Mt. Loafer")  I think he was up here a lot.

Moving on to the least happy view of the property, we have a retired outhouse.  The gate and wood pile behind it may come in useful, but it's a little distracting.  It's currently being used for a toolshed and getting shovels, rakes, a gas can and a wheelbarrow with the property are a plus here.  Oh and it doesn't actually stink.  I hope it's been back-filled, I'm guessing so, but unknown at this time.  On the other hand, it's the first thing you see as you pull up, which isn't ideal.  The door (behind it in the picture) has fallen off and is missing.  It currently has an old screen door with glass leaned up against it.  There are also at least 20 cinder blocks and other misc potentially useful supplies back there, though probably 75% garbage to be hauled away.  I guess we will see.  I'd prefer to tear this thing down and have a real toolshed, but that's probably a ways down the list on making things usable.  This arguably is where the most work will be done.  Oh yeah, thinking of hanging the gate, dunno how that will work yet.  Moving on...

Here is my own view of the fire pit, my apologies I didn't get a great picture.  One obvious thing is the cracks in the cement.  The guy's buddy who poured the cement didn't account for the metal ring expanding with the fire, so apparently it cracked the pad.  Not the end of the world and the cracks are minimal.  It's very usable and the view is quite good, even if we didn't have an ideal day to see it.  The half tree is not shown, but is off to the right a bit.  I didn't notice it until he pointed it out, but after that I kept noticing it, it looks like a juniper tree that should be as high as it's neighbors, but is only about 5 feet tall.  Kind of like a bottom only of a Christmas tree.  My OCD may get the best of me on that one, we'll see.  A nice view even if the actual fire ring is a little smaller than I first expected.

One cool thing he did was build a trail to walk back up through the property.  It's winding and goes through the trees pretty well without actually doubling back on itself too much.  The person previous to us looking at it apparently brought a motor bike and rode the trail, you can see the tracks in this picture if you look closely.  There are a few nice sized rocks with lichen on it and numerous other things to be seen on this trail.  Very nice, and will give the kids something to walk and stick to the property.

Finally we come to the "shed".  On this one I'm impressed, from the description I would have expected to see some half-caved in metal shed since there was no picture showing it off.  He unlocked it and we went inside for a moment, but I didn't get a great look.  The walls are bare beams and the outside wood which isn't really surprising.  The kids thought this was the best thing ever.  It's on a cement pad.  There's also gravel right up to it and all the way around it.  He had previously had a curtained off corner with a portable toilet inside.  There are two old short bristle carpets/rugs inside which is also a good thing.  And the heated part is a nice propane heater hooked up in the back.  The big square there on the front is a board covering a window that has blinds on the inside.  I'm unsure if we will leave that on there or do something else like shutters or something.  There is also a thermometer and a hook to hang a bird feeder or somesuch on the left side of the door here.  You can't see the hook very well, it's behind the branch.

On the right is a makeshift woodpile under the tree.  Probably smart to keep it away from the actual walls as that might attract pests to the shed.  I also really like the "porch" aspect, so if it rains we could put some chairs out there and enjoy things still.  Of course more gravel and such.

In the back we see a private property sign as well as the propane tank supplying the heater.  Apparently the propane tank will last a full season up there if not abused.  It's sitting more or less level on a brick and it looks like another has been occasionally used (or removed as it's not for sale maybe).  I also noticed the rain gutter for the first time back here, there is one on both the front and back which is nice.

Looking directly behind the shed is another view of the trail that winds through the property.  Again, it's nice to see this well thought out and functional.

Last view of the shed, you can see the small piece of fencing there in the background by the RV pad.

Coming back around I noticed that while the kids really like the idea of cactuses on the property, right next to the shed is probably not a great place for them.  These will likely be moved or outright go as one of the first things we do.

This is the road that leads into the drive.  To the right of us is the fire pit, shed and RV pad.  Behind us is the abandoned outhouse.  To the left is a short gravel drive, big enough to park a truck on.  This road makes a sharp left and goes a few hundred feet out to the main dirt road.  That road to the main road also has similar gravel on it put down by the (shortly previous) owner.  Apparently the road was reasonably muddy without it after it rains.

I better stop here as this has been a really long post.  I'm sure I'll give you a few updates as we go along, there's certainly more to say.

I'm a city boy, so any advice would be great as well.  I've been camping some, but this will be new and exciting territory for me.  As always, thanks for stopping by!