One of my favorite places to go and walk through nature is some property we own by the river. There used to be a bridge that my children had named the Dangerous Bridge, it was old with holes working their way though the floor so that you could look down as you drove across and see the river. To get to the bridge from one side, you went down a fairly steep hill, made a sharp turn that went up a steep short hill and then drove across the bridge. One of our memories of that bridge was trying to cross in the winter and not making it up the short steep hill. Somehow I got half turned around on the hill and had to have a neighbor get my van off the hill and drive it across for me. This was when cell phones were the size of bricks, but I did have one and my dad came to watch over what was going on.
Years after that incident, the county decided they needed to replace the bridge. Apparently there is a law/rule that says new bridges have to be able to be crossed at 55 miles per hour in the event of an emergency vehicle needing to cross. The consensus was that the bridge would need to move. The county proceeded to straighten the road and put in a new bridge that linked to where the road made another sharp turn on the other side. To do this they needed to cut through the middle of our field. The road commissioner and my parents made a deal with my parents thinking it was just for Right of Way through the field. My mother then placed a piece on the small side into a set aside program (CRP). This is where we are paid to not plant in that portion of the field.
Recently we noticed that the assessor’s office had changed our field on the small side to be listed as Right of Way. On their site it no longer showed our name for anyone looking up the land. The office claimed it’s still ours, just is marked as right of way for the county. Looking further into it we found that the county had included that land in the road right of way despite not being needed for the road. The official wording states that it will revert to us when it’s no longer needed for the road, which to me was right after the road was finished (or even always since they didn’t use that area).
That area is one of my favorites to walk through the woods. I also love getting in the river there and taking pictures of the sand banks. It’s amazing to me how much the river banks change over time with flooding, high water, and droughts all having substantial effects on the area. The field nearby floods frequently with wet spots and washes out crops. The bank on the CRP program side is all soft river sand when you approach the river. Animal tracks are everywhere.
With the land listed in such an odd way on the PVA site it’s difficult for people to look up our property lines. We frequently have trespassers coming onto our property to put canoes and kayaks in. I’m not sure having our property ownership clearly filled out would fix this, but it would make me feel more comfortable. The people coming onto our property frequently leave trash and destroy things. Most of what they are destroying is vegetation, but the trash is what really bothers me. Additionally, we face liability if anyone gets hurt on our property. I’ve ventured past to find whole families playing in the river coming through our property. When high the river can be especially dangerous, knowing that my own grandfather drown and was a strong swimmer makes me even more afraid for the young children taken to play in the river by unaware parents.
How to get our property back is difficult. Part of the issue with it being listed as Right of Way came about from lawyers not knowing the legal descriptions of the land. Now my parents past lawyer and even the current lawyer my mother was using has passed away leaving us to navigate the property laws on our own as we try to find another lawyer – which also comes down to why we should be faced with the legal costs because of this.
We are currently also facing issues with another property that fell under another issue with the state. The property has been in our hands since the early 70’s. When my parents first purchased it, they had a friendly agreement with the park – not to mention that the road through the woods on park ground had always been used to access the property. My father maintained the road and farmed some park property for the local state park to use to feed their animals. Now with my father gone and a new park manager, the park has decided to close off our access. We had discussions with the park and finally worked out that we can access our property for now. They are asking us to lease the road from them after they work out a lease. As things currently stand the agreement is in limbo and we are waiting for more information from them. This all came about when the park paid to repave the road back to some of their property and wanted to close off the road completely.
Today was a great day to run down and play in the river. We have lots of land on the river, so we chose a spot with a sandbank. There were minnows swimming in the water, old mussel shells under the water, and fishing lines hanging from the bridge. I walked both directions down the river. Walking in the river, I could see the bottom everywhere I walked. There was some trash, but also lots of really cool rocks and shells. For those that haven’t gotten in the river water, it can be a little cold. The water in little shallow pools that are cut off warms up in the sun. Out in the river where the water is flowing, the water is just the right temperature to cool down in the hot sun in my opinion .
While down at the river we ran into a few groups that were treating the our field area like public property. I remember years ago my father meeting people that were playing in our lake and asking who gave them permission. They all would claim to have permission from the owners, not even realizing it was the owner they were talking to.
My father and his first cousin, Don, made a really nice family get together area around the pond we all still have. There was a drive around a field, and originally a house that was rented out. The house quickly was destroyed, but the pond was somewhere we all got together at for a lot of my childhood. It included a sandy beach, picnic tables, and a bridge across the pond. I remember celebrating my brother’s birthday there with my grandparents and lots of other family and friends. The part that stuck in my mind was playing string tricks with the cord on the new camera my grandma had given me and losing it off the bridge. A family friend, Butch, dived several times to the bottom trying to get the camera, finally giving up. The camera is still somewhere in the bottom of that pond.
My father after too many instances of running into trespassers at the pond, decided to destroy the drive back to the pond, tear out the bridge, and let the pond get taken by trees. Now no one uses the pond – not even our family… My parents explained to us many times that it was a question of liability, and what happens if someone gets hurt on our property. Then there was the mass destruction that large groups of people using an area will cause. Trash and more!
Growing up we also used to go canoeing and play in the river. Playing on the sandbank was fun. So taking the kids to the river was high on my list of things to do. The path we took down to the river wasn’t one we had made, it was one someone using our property to put canoes in to the river had cut through the weeds and trees. While walking down it, we saw everything from discarded aluminum cans to the sprayer for a garden hose. The kids built sand pyramids at the bottom of the path and want to go back to check on them…. I couldn’t tell them that they wouldn’t even last one day with the traffic that cuts through our property.
While there a car was parked at the top of the trail, pulled over on our property. It didn’t move, the people weren’t around. I assume they were canoeing down the river. It had a hangtag from the local high school in the front window. They obviously felt comfortable enough to leave their car parked on our property for hours with no one around it. What’s funny is my family has always been welcoming I think. So people asking if it’s ok, not leaving trash, would be all it would take to not be trespassing.
Our other area Bailey’s Bottom has so much trash being dumped at the entry, we have given up keeping up the road. When we want to go back to the field we walk back, which means we rarely go, since it’s a good distance back. It was another place growing up the family would have parties, swinging out into the river on tire swings, having bon fires, paying on the sand banks! It was where I learned to drive a truck on the road beside the field.
Last weekend we took a trip home. It was a wonderful trip down memory lane…. We went mushroom hunting, played in the river (I got scream at for that one), and even saw my cousin Larry with the Super Banana.
Growing up on a farm as foods came in season we ate those foods EVERY meal until they weren’t in season anymore! Morel mushrooms were one of those seasons. (Sweet Corn is another that has turned me into a corn snob… forget that out of season stuff you get at the grocery store). Morels are only available a few weeks each year, can’t be grown commercially, and everyone guards their spot. My Aunt Linda used to have me drive her to her spot long before I got my license so that I could drop her off and pick her up later. You would hate to leave any evidence of where your favorite spot is! Mushrooms tend to grow in sunny spots where decaying old trees are coming up. This year I managed to catch a frog too. Konnor also tried to track a deer down, he followed the tracks through the woods. I remember my dad showing me years ago which tracks are female and which are male (I don’t remember anymore which are which), it’s amazing how you can tell from the tracks.
Out in the woods I was reminded of all the times we would try to walk across logs (on ravines) – I still am amazed that my brother and I never broke a bone in our childhood. We would head out in the woods just to walk. Across streams, through brambles, and with no particular destination in mind.
After mushroom hunting on the way home, I stopped and hopped in the river. It was really cold – but what a memory. It brought back memories of walking in the river, canoeing, and looking for shells. My mother was concerned about all the trash (broken glass, needles, and everything else) that has now ended up in the river…. The river water did feel really good after walking around in the woods while it was hot out!
Finally after getting home my cousin Larry Wayne showed up. He had his dad’s tractor the Super Banana with. My Uncle Lloyde used to take that tractor all over to tractor pulls and my dad would make us attend whenever they were at the local fair. The tractor was loud! They hook the tractor to a sled and you see who can pull the sled the farthest down the track. My Uncle had ended up in the Hall of Fame for Tractor Pulls with his tractor, and that’s where Larry picked it up. The tractor had been put away in the late 70s and yet it was still running! It has 4 Hemi engines and was surprisingly no where near as loud as I remember from my childhood.
I also remember my dad challenging Uncle Lloyd to a tractor pull with his farm tractor. My dad still claims he would have won if my cousins hadn’t hooked the sled to the farm tractor’s axle!
On a side note, Larry has the same birthday as me! 10 years before I was born, Larry was born on the same day. Then Larry’s first daughter was born on his 30th birthday, and my 20th birthday! Same day! Our birthday is a popular day in our family.
Mom has also added a little fish pond that Konnor enjoyed feeding the fish. Growing up our fish pond was huge and my dad had dug it with a big farm tractor, but the little one is nice for Konnor. – My dad would move the pond when he felt like it, and have it stocked with bass and catfish. There may still be catfish in the last one he dug. They originally were trained to come up to the surface when he walked out to the pond – then he would feed them dog food. It’s amazing to think that you can train a catfish to come to the vibration of footsteps!
We took a lot of pictures and everyone was exhausted by the end of the day!