The plan evolved as the reality of becoming "renters" as opposed to being "home owners" sank in. We also were faced with the dilemma of where we could safely "park" our life earnings after our farm and business assets were monetized. Real Estate seemed to present a secure option for at least a part of it. When we happened on a beautiful shoreline property on Romans Point, we made an offer which was accepted, So, now we are off and away planning a new development and a new Adventure. The "cottage" will be just that: a small year around Northwoods retreat cabin offering relaxation and solitude with a gorgeous lake view.
Last week I drove out to inspect the site again with a plan to sit in a lawn chair on our sandstone bluff 40 feet above the lake to watch the sun set over Bark Bay. I took the dog along for company--which turned out to be a mistake. Barely out of the truck, our energetic Border Collie disappeared over the precipice of the cliff! Greta ended up on an ice-covered sandstone shelf about ten feet above the water with no way up and no way around or out, The dog desperately tried several times to scale the palisade, only to tumble back to the shelf below. I called home to report my predicament: two hours until sunset with no ideas for how to effect a rescue. The dog would not survive the night as a west wind was breaking waves on the rocks below. Janet ran next door to consult with Jon.
An hour later the two of them turn up with two 20' extensions ladders, climbing ropes, and a 200 foot spool of heavy duty strapping. Jon's plan: to lower a ladder and descend to rescue the dog.
"I can't let you risk your life for a dog!"
"Dad, It's my life!!"
"NO Jon, your life is OUR life!!!"
"Dad, I'll need your help..."
We extend the two ladders, securely lashing them together at every joint. Remembering my Boy Scout training, I fashion a harness from the strapping. With Jon in the harness we lower the long ladder until it bottoms out on the shelf below and secure the ladder with the climbing rope to a stout tree at the top of the cliff, Wrapping the strapping once around the same tree I brace against the base of the trunk and play out the strapping as Jon descends the ladder in his harness. If the ladder collapses or he falls, I hope to be able to keep him suspended by tying-off around the tree, call 911, and wait for help to arrive. All went well. Jon scooped up the dog, wrapped her in a large towel, and with help from Janet and me reeling up the strapping, ascended the ladder with the dog. He made it safely over the top just as the sun was setting. Miraculously, Greta was not injured.
Fortunately, it was a dog and not a grandchild. The development plan now includes some strong post and rail barrier fencing like they have at Copper Falls and other public parks with high overlooks. I hope to enjoy the sunset on my next visit with a little less heart-pounding adventure.