So You Don’t Like the Mountains: Waterfront Cabins

waterfront cabin photo

Photo by Tommie Hansen

So far, we’ve talked mostly about cabins in the mountains. It makes sense– when you think about log cabins, what comes to mind is gorgeous vistas, wind through the pine trees, and hot coffee on cold, alpine mornings.

But what if that’s not your cup of tea? How about a nice, serene, water-front cabin?

The trouble is, water-front property is going to be a lot more exclusive than any given mountain-side property. Especially in a semi-arid place like Colorado– we’ve got mountains in spades, but not so many lakes. So how do you grab up that wonderful lakeside property?

The best way to get that beautiful waterfront property

First of all, it’s important to remember that every lake is different. Not just in terms of nature, either– you have to keep in mind the zoning, the building restrictions, access rights, and so on. For instance, does your prospective property have construction access for a dock, or is it limited in certain ways? Do you have exclusive rights to the shoreline abutting your property, or are you a part of community swimming and boating access? Regardless of the property in question, make sure you’re asking the right questions. If you’re looking for a good starting place, take a look at this list of questions from a realtor to ask before buying lakefront property.

On the other side of the equation, you’ve got to pay attention to the actual features of the property and the lake itself. Depending on what you’re looking to do, there are a lot of different things you have to keep in mind. For example, are you someone who wants to boat? Make sure that there’s enough space for a dock! Beyond that, is the lake some place you can boat? Too many weeds, too rocky, too shallow, and so on? Where’s your boat going to launch from, anyway? Do you have a private ramp, or will you have to rely on public access?

Always, before you commit to a location, make sure that you can use it for what you intend. It’s no fun to sit on the porch of your log cabin and watch other people enjoying the lake if you can’t!

Waterfront property can be a big investment

Then, of course, once you’ve gotten your lake-front slice of heaven, it’s important to remember that you’re there for the duration. Meaning, are you ready to take care of a cabin that’s been exposed to higher-than-average levels of wind, water, and sun? Buildings out in the open–like the ones on any shoreline–tend to soak up more than their fair share of elements, which can add up to costly repairs. There are also some legal issues, like the obligation to maintain the waterfront itself. Take a look at this list of issues from waterfront law professionals for more info!

Of course, if you’d prefer not to worry about wind or rain, insects or mold, you might want to take a look at our TruLog steel log siding. Not to toot our own horn, but no matter where you build it’s important to keep in mind the bottom line– TruLog can keep your cabin in ship-shape, no matter which waterfront it’s on!

The Challenges of Wilderness Living

isolated cabin photo

Photo by Pictures by Ann

Looking for some inspiration for wilderness living? Then take a look at the Paulsen Family’s luxury island getaway, just a few hours north of Minneapolis, Minnesota!

Located on an island in Lake Vermillion, this cabin is the height of wilderness luxury. For us, it’s a great example of how to build a cabin right. With a modest 800’ square foot footprint, it’s minimally impactful on the gorgeous natural surroundings. At the same time, though, it’s about as beautiful on the inside as the forest around it is!

Without knowing much about wilderness living, it’s easy to take a look at the Paulsen’s cabin and say ‘Gosh, what a pretty cabin.’ But the more you know about wilderness life, the more respect you have for the thought that’s gone into the design of utilities and infrastructure the Paulsens must have needed to make the cabin as comfortable as it is.

Wilderness Living means thinking it all the way through!

Island living is no joke. Without access to the mainland, you’ve got to think about a lot of things that we may just take for granted. For example, where does your trash go, when you have to boat everything in and out? Where do you get your water? A lot of little things add up to a surprisingly uncomfortable living situation. Without some good planning, you’re only a couple of steps away from camping!

You don’t have to be a professor of architecture–like Kristen Paulsen–to cover your bases. All you have to do is ask yourself a couple of key questions. For instance, where are you getting your water? The Paulsens used a well in a National Park ten minutes away, for drinking water. For all other utilities, they used lake-water filtered through a peat-based bio-filter. If that sounds like a good set-up, then look at Anua’s Puraflo peat fiber biofilter system! If that doesn’t sound like your kind of setup, there are a lot of other solutions, including a simple cistern. Make sure to pick the one that’s best for you.

Connection or no, you’ve got to take out the trash

Another question, is how connected to the outside world would you like to be? The Paulsens were able to have a great level of connectivity with a town about twenty minutes away, including groceries and coffee shops. They even had their mail delivered every morning by boat! Connectivity can mean supplies, trash-removal, and amenities. It can even mean safety and help in an emergency. However, connectivity may be something you’d like to avoid– in that case, consider what you’re willing to do without, and plan accordingly.

Finally, wastewater and septic issues! Nobody likes to think about it, but these can make or break your wilderness experience. From traditional solutions like a well-placed septic-tank to more off-beat solutions like composting toilets, you’ve got to dispose of your wastewater somehow.

No doubt you’ve got the perfect spot picked out. By thinking through some simple–but often overlooked–questions, you can enjoy it as much as the Paulsens do!

Log Cabin Cooking: Using a Dutch Oven

What do you know about dutch oven cooking?

We know, we know. It’s not only a method of cooking. But a dutch oven is a great way to cook a delicious meal without the build-out! In a continuation of our Log Cabin Cooking series, we’ve got a few good tips on how to use this traditional form of cooking. Soon enough, you’ll be cooking gourmet meals like a wilderness pro!

First of all, what is a dutch oven?

A dutch oven is a metal pot that you can set into the campfire. Easy as that. Used in stews, casseroles, and even in baking, a dutch oven can be a great way to make some excellent meals when all you have is a fire-pit. Simply put hot coals beneath–if it’s a stew–or on top (if you’re baking) to heat up the dutch oven. Like most other outdoor cookware, it’s built to withstand a fair amount of use, if treated well!

What sort of things can you cook in a dutch oven? Well, that depends on your ingenuity! We’ve seen recipes for everything from cornbread to casseroles. If you’re looking for more of a challenge, we’ve even seen things like dutch oven cheesecake! Though it may take some figuring out, there isn’t a lot you can’t do with a good dutch oven.

We recommend, if you’re going for the true dutch oven experience, going with cast iron.

Though you can find dutch ovens made from aluminum, enameled steel, and all manner of different materials, we’ve found that cast iron heats most evenly, and can be used for the widest range of applications. For instance, you can both use the deep base for cooking, and lay food in an inverted lid as an impromptu skillet, as well!

Regardless of the type of dutch oven you go with–each has its own benefits–make sure to avoid meltable plastics. Though most dutch ovens are built with safety and usability in mind, plastic components can severely limit the functionality of your oven. After all, you don’t want melting or burning plastic in your food!

Each type has its ups and downs

If you go with a cast iron dutch oven, make sure to check out our blog on caring for cast iron cookware. Just like with other cast iron cookware, it’s important to keep it clean, dry, and seasoned! Other dutch ovens, such as enameled steel ovens, work just fine. We’re just traditionalists.

And remember, if you’re looking for the TruLog log-cabin lifestyle, make sure to check back in with us for more back-country cooking tips and guidelines! Nothing says ‘log cabin’ like a hand-cooked meal, and TruLog’s log-blog can help. Bon appetit!

Nothing Like A Cabin Getaway: A Romantic Guide

Picture this: a roaring fire lighting up the dark, velvet night, a bottle of red wine, and nothing but the quiet whisper of wind in the pine trees to intrude. If this sounds like a great weekend to you, you’re not alone– romantic cabin getaways are a hot destination, for a whole range of reasons. But making the right decision for your romantic retreat can make all the difference between a successful weekend and a flop.

If you and your loved one are thinking about taking a romantic trip, there are a few things you can keep in mind to guarantee you the weekend you deserve. Though they’re not guarantees, answering a few of these questions can help make your weekend one to remember!

Price over quality

Keep in mind that the cost of the stay doesn’t guarantee the quality of the accommodations. Especially in high traffic tourist areas–the ski resort towns of Colorado among them–the cost of your weekend might not necessarily give you anything extra. Aspen, for example, is over three bucks to the dollar when it comes to living expenses, meaning it costs upwards of three times the average to stay there. Instead, consider other places with more charm and less overhead, like nearby Carbondale or these honeymoon getaways in Estes Park. No matter where you stay, doing some research beforehand can save you a lot of money!

Priorities, priorities

If you’re looking for a romantic getaway, chances are that your definition of a good time probably doesn’t line up exactly with the marketing. What seems like a good time to one person–an all-day spa treatment and a gourmet dinner, for instance–might seem boring to someone else. When you’re looking for a romantic getaway, think about what sounds good to you wherever you go. Horseback riding through isolated aspen groves? That sounds great! Sunset winery tours? Also good! Don’t limit yourself to what you’ve been told romantic cabin getaways should be. Instead, make your own decisions!

Your own cabin getaway!

Who are we kidding– if you’re reading this blog, then chances are you’ve already got a cozy mountain getaway lined up. If that’s the case, you’re halfway to an excellent romantic getaway already! There are a good number of ways to decorate your cabin to give it that special something. Again, keep in mind what you and your special someone want to get out of the weekend– romance is more about taste than gestures!

And keep in mind the condition of your cabin, too! Shameless plug, but nobody likes having a romantic getaway in a run-down, bug-eaten log cabin. Our Tru Log siding can make caring for your romantic destination a breeze, and let you and yours enjoy it for decades to come!

Cabin Building Challenges: Building on a Slope

mountain slope cabin photoSo you’ve got an eye on building your own log cabin. The only problem? The perfect plot of land is too steep to build on.

It happens a lot. Most mountain getaways are–you guessed it–in the mountains. This means less than ideal building situations, for a number of reasons. Rocky soil, inclement weather, and cost of building supplies all contribute to the difficulty of building in the mountains. But, by golly, it can sure be worth it– often times, the places that are hardest to build offer the best views, the most outdoor adventures, and the most rewarding log cabin experience.

Then what can you do to solve this problem?

To quote Cabin Living Magazine, there are two options when dealing with slopes. You can either build on them, or live with them. The trick is, you’ve got to decide which one suits you the best for your given situation. There are some optional things you may be able to do without! On the other hand, though, there are going to be a few things you absolutely have to have, slope or no.

Basements, for instance, should be one of the first things on the chopping block when you’re building on a slope. The process and equipment needed for excavation makes digging out a basement a daunting–and expensive–process when you’re building on a slope. Both hauling in an excavator and hauling out hard rock means huge expenditure on your end.

On the other hand, you’ve got a hard choice to make when it comes to utilities. Burying lines and infrastructure for electricity, gas, and sewage means you’re going to face a lot of the same issues as basement-building, but with their own set of challenges. Instead, why not take a look at cost-saving measures like chemical toilets or solar generators? Especially if you’re looking at a weekend getaway instead of a long-term living situation, cutting down on your needs can be a great workaround for slope-building issues.

Your build-out goes beyond construction

Of course, no matter what you decide on, there’s always the issue of accessibility. Both when you’re building and after you’re done, you’ll need to consider how you’re going to make it to your cabin in the first place. Armloads of supplies or luggage can be hard to handle in the first place, but juggling those across a rocky scree-field makes for a rough start to your weekend. Think about access during construction, both for where your construction supplies should go, and where you’ll be coming in after you’re done with the build-out.

Long-term livability is key when you’re making plans for building a cabin. That means thinking of issues ahead of time, and addressing them at the outset instead of waiting until they become a problem. Building on a slope should be like building anywhere else in terms of planning– you’re just looking at a different set of variables with the same eye towards logistics!

Speaking of long-term, repairs can be a heck of a thing when you’re on a steep slope. With Tru Log’s steel siding, log cabin maintenance is made just that much easier! Take a look at what our siding can do to protect your cabin, and contact us for more information today!

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