The first thing you need when you decide to live away from civilization, as in my case, is water. The water table near my Hobbit Hill, I was told, was to be found some fifteen feet below the surface. When I decided to put down the Sandpoint, I did not know that I was supposed to keep twisting the pipe on the Sandpoint while I drove the pipe with a post driver. As I was driving the Sandpoint down into the ground it slowly vibrated off the pipe because I was not continually twisting the pipe back onto the Sandpoint as I drove it down. When I realized the Sandpoint was no longer connected to the pipe I started digging a hole to retrieve my Sandpoint. I had to get it back. I had spent all I had and I could not afford another one.
At one point the hole was so deep I could not dig any further with a posthole digger even though I was trying to dig an extra wide hole to have enough room to open the handle of the posthole digger.
It was already past midday, and I was getting nowhere by myself. I hated to do it, but I recruited some of my friends to help me dig. We would drop a bucket tied to a rope down into the hole then we would lower one of my friends – his name was Mike – down headfirst holding onto his ankles. He would fill up the bucket. When it was full, we would pull him out by his legs. Once we had Mike out-of-the-way we would pull up the bucket and empty it. We had to repeat this process many a time. Unfortunately, at one point, Mike had climbed so far down the hole that his shoulders were filling it. He was stuck! He tried to yell for us to pull him up, but his voice was muffled given that his head was stuck.
From our point of view it sounded so funny, we couldn’t stop laughing and we didn’t have the strength to pull him back up. The poor guy was getting frantic. In fact, it was far from being a laughing matter. He started to make louder muffled noises and flailing his feet. When we finally realized that our friend was going to suffocate if we didn’t pull him out sooner rather than later, a shot of adrenaline gave us the strength to yank him up out of his soon to be upside-down grave. Ultimately, we managed to retrieve my Sandpoint and drive it in properly.
Hours later and nearly at sunset, we hit water. We shouted three cheers, cracked a couple of beers and sat down looking at our disastrous-looking water well. Nevertheless I was able to supply water for my cabin with a hand pump.
Once we had it all done and the hole was covered with grass, we decided it would be the best spot for us to have our parties.
Another tradition that my friends and I considered important was to have a fire pit near my new residence. The 80 acres surrounding my new home was populated by a mature oak forest. There was only a small clearing around the Hobbit Hill that extended a little ways into the woods where we decided to install a fire pit in a depression that we had created with the bobcat which we used to shovel dirt over the Hobbit Hill.
However, generally when you talk “oak forest” you can be reasonably certain to find poison ivy nearby. I had never reacted to poison ivy. I could get up in the morning and walk out into the woods in my underwear with no shoes or socks to take a leak and never getting a rash afterward. Other people who came out to the Hobbit Hill for one party or another, would wake up with a rash the next morning if they hadn’t been cautious walking through the woods.
My friend Dana was so sensitive to poison ivy that he would make sure he never left the area around the cabin where there was just dirt and no suspicious or poisonous plants growing about the place. No matter how careful he was, though, he would get poison ivy from the air!
After graduating from high school that summer, I found a job working for Ranum Construction Company. I did not have a vehicle, so I had to hitchhike into town every morning and back out to my Hobbit Hill every evening. It was a two-mile jog on a gravel road from my home to the highway. I never needed to get to the gym in those days; I was fit and looking good!
Once on the highway I would have to hitchhike the eight miles into town. At first, it took me a while to get anyone interested or trusting enough to pick me up. Yet, a few days into the routine, the same people heading to work would see me thumbing my way to town and would give me a ride. I started to get rides very quickly from the same few people.
That summer we had a lot of parties out at the Hobbit Hill. Don and others, would sit on top of my hill and smoke pot. Don would roll his joints while picking out the seeds and sticking them into the sod.
By the end of the summer I had some big pot plants growing on top of my hill. One day they were all gone. I’m not sure who came and harvested the plants. It could’ve been Don. But it could’ve been a lot of other people too.
The first couple of weeks before I started to get regular reliable rides quickly, I had to get up very early to make sure that I would get into town on time for work. I got home late one Friday night and realized I would not have to get up early the next morning. I set my alarm clock for the same time and put it on the center white spool table.
I grew up knowing that guns are part of American life. So, at that time, I had a .22 pistol. That particular night, I loaded it and put it under my pillow. When the alarm clock went off at the regular time, early in the morning, in my dazed state, I pulled out the pistol, chambered a round and emptied the clip into the alarm clock, and went back to sleep! Well, kind of. It’s hard to get back to sleep after the adrenaline rush of blasting your alarm clock with a .22 inside a closed structure. It is very loud!
I only lived in that Hobbit Hill the one summer. But my friends and I continued using it as a party spot. One time in the middle of the winter, we used a dogsled, without a dog to pull a keg back into the woods to the Hobbit Hill. We were inside partying to the warmth of a wood-stove, when all of a sudden the entire door and frame came crashing down, falling to the floor with Mike on top of the door. He got up and said someone was holding the door. No one was holding the door, it was just stuck. It was lucky that no one was holding the door.
So how did I get to the point where I was stealing lumber and partying in the woods?
NEXT TIME – CHAPTER 3 – NEW GUINEA
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