Beach Cabin


Beach Cabin When I was small our family used to go down to Ilwaco in the summers, Dad liked to fish and it was only a two-hour drive. We'd camp in a canvas tent, and generally had a pretty good time while Dad was out in the boat. Until that year when it rained the entire time. Miserable, it was, all five of us packed into a steaming, sandy tent, day after day. I think Mom issued some kind of an ultimatum after that.

The result was that Dad bought what had been a rental fishing cabin in nearby Long Beach. (I think it was a co-worker who sold it to him.) I remember that the interior was covered with risque placards, renters adding to the collection had apparently been the custom. (Mom got rid of most of them, but we kept a few of the tamer ones.) This was in 1968 or 1969, IIRC. (And I might not RC.) The cabin was not particularly expensive, as real estate goes. Not there, not then.

Instead of a sandy moist canvas tent, with a Tilley heater and a Coleman gas mantle lamp as the only comforts, we had rooms! Beds, a bathroom, electric lights, a kitchen with refrigerator, wood heater...

It was marvelous.

Usually we'd spend a week or two at a time there, or a long weekend, several times a year. I spent most of one summer down there, I think I was 14. Dad had gone into partnership with another teacher, they'd built a 32-foot fishing boat and were running it as a salmon charter in summers. They'd go out fishing, early, and during the day I'd knock around the cabin, the beach, and town. When they got back I'd ride my bicycle down to Ilwaco and clean the boat. They'd be relaxing at the bar swapping fish stories and I'd be earning cash; everybody was happy. Afterwards we'd throw my bike into the truck and drive back to the cabin. Dad later sold out to his partner, I think the boat cut into the necessary farm duties a bit too much. That, and the salmon fishery collapsed. Dad didn't fish much after that, but we kept the cabin.

The extended family and friends would often gather there when I was younger, many's the time I remember the cabin being absolutely packed with people. Beds and couches all full, kids on the floor in sleeping bags, RV's and tents in the yard and on the street. Fun times. In later years, when I was off on my own and then with my own family, I'd still try to get down there once a year to enjoy it. (It didn't always happen.) The last big gathering I'm aware of was a few months before Daniel was born, so Jill did get to see one of those.

In these later years Mom and Dad were slowly remodeling the cabin. The bathroom was first, it went from the nastiest room to the nicest. They remodeled the two bedrooms next, and those turned out pretty nicely as well. Then Mom passed, and the remodeling stopped.

The cabin had originally been built, so I'm told, by somebody who worked at the school where Dad was employed. A custodian? He'd slowly gather surplus building materials, and whenever he had enough he'd go down and add on to the cabin again; I believe it had been built in at least five stages. Fairly crude construction, it's up on blocks instead of a foundation and is uninsulated. The lack of insulation is actually a positive for a building that is uninhabited most of the time, as it allows the moisture to escape when it is heated. Every 10–20 years it'd have to be jacked up again, as the blocks slowly sank into the sand. The same schedule usually applied to replacing the (perpetually leaky) roof.

At some point thieves started breaking into the cabin periodically, in spite of the fact that nothing valuable was ever stored there. (Just like in The Brave Little Toaster, it was the place where old furniture and appliances went to die.) The thieves would depart with their load of booty, things like pillows and batteries from the tube television remote, leaving broken doors, windows, and locks in their wake. The repairs always cost far more than the crap they stole. (The worst loss was some of Mom's still-life oil paintings [another of her hobbies that had come and gone] that she'd put down there. Zero commercial value, but plenty of sentimental value.) Dad finally seemed to solve the problem by leaving a sheltered shutter permanently off, making it easy to look inside to see the kind of things for which you were risking jail.

Cooking in the kitchen was always a bit of an ordeal. There was only the wood-fired cookstove, which in my memory was only used a few times for cooking. (Temperature control is a bit tricky.) Mostly it is used for disposing of paper waste, and for putting a quick flash of heat into the kitchen while the main heat was still getting going, and as a work table. We'd often bring in a Coleman stove for cooking, and there was a hot plate, and later also a microwave.

Dad had gotten tired of taking firewood down to the cabin, only to find it all used up the next time he went down, so he replaced the wood heater (a particular kind of enclosed wood stove that was getting burned-out anyway) with a pellet stove. The new rule was that you supplied your own pellets when using the cabin. This was largely a success, except that the stove could get 'clogged' with damp pellets if it wasn't cleaned out thoroughly when leaving.

When Dad died he left the cabin to me. In theory this was my reward for the executorship, or so he'd said once in passing. Perhaps a bit like the traditional White Elephant, though, a gift that is no gift, as this is a high-maintenance bit of real estate—the coastal weather is hard on buildings. Also, of his heirs I live by far the furthest away from the cabin. It usually takes us a good 10 hours to get there traveling as a family. (Traveling alone I think it still takes a good 8 hours best-case.) So, reward? Punishment? It's not all that clear.


Yes, I could sell it, and for what I consider to be a ridiculous price, but then it'd be gone, taking a lot of memories with it. (It's unclear whether the cabin itself is an asset or a liability to the value of the property.)

Because I work from home, most of the time I can work from the cabin just as well, so long as I have internet access. Once Daniel is out of the house, we could spend a lot more time down here. Jill's busy schedule would actually be the limiting factor.

Or we could turn it back into a rental unit, which might defray its operating and maintenance costs. Maybe. It'd probably take a lot of work to upgrade it sufficiently to where it would be an attractive rental. And: 1) people aren't very nice to rental units, so maintenance costs would go up; 2) you'd have to schedule your own uses in well ahead of time. Kind of unattractive, as it's not like you'd actually be making money. If you have to schedule your own time anyway, why not just sell the place and simply rent whenever you wanted to be down there? Much less headache.

Still, some upgrades would be nice. Chief among them at this point would be getting some laundry facilities, we have always keenly felt their lack. I think that putting a washer/drier back in the low corner of the kids' playroom would be a good use of that nearly unusable space. I'm not sure you can slope a drain line sufficiently from there, though, and you'd have to upgrade the electrical service. Upgrading the 60A fuse (literally) box would not be all that hard to do: just pull the meter and peel off the wall board and replace the fuse box with a breaker panel. Run a couple of extra circuits while you are there. Include 50A and 30A RV plugs on the outside wall while you're at it.

Mom had planned to remodel the kitchen, I know she had some ideas and had laid in some supplies. I remember that I supplied a length of 8ga copper wire for getting power to an electric range. She thought that putting in a range/oven by the refrigerator, in a table/work surface that spanned that wall, was a good idea. She thought that a shortie water heater could go under there, instead of the tall one that's currently occupying the corner of the kitchen. I'm not sure if we'd want to go with this plan or not.

Another option would be to put in gas, but I'm not a big fan of the big white tank out front look. Yes, operating costs are usually a bit less than electricity, but the installation costs are higher, and the actual use of the cabin's services tends to be on the low side anyway.

The big trees are dying, I think they have to come down. I think only four of them are on our property, though. Another expense, this isn't really DIY territory. (It could be: I know how it's done and Dad had the lineman's gear, which Steve found in the garage, but if you ask me it just looks like an easy way to die.)


Friday, September 6, 2019

Steve (and Denise) and I made it down to the cabin on the anniversary of Dad's passing. I rode his motorcycle down. (I'd always made him insultingly low offers on the bike, and he'd just laugh. I guess it could be mine now, but honestly I'm not all that interested. Still, one good ride on it assuages my conscience, and proves that it's in saleable condition.) We hoisted a toast at the Lost Roo, which we still refer to as the Spent Rubber, our pejorative nickname for the place several businesses ago. (This is the closest watering hole to the cabin.)

This is the Rod Run weekend, the place is an absolute zoo. Unreal.

It was still fairly warm, we didn't bother with the pellet stove. I'd brought down a couple of modest-power space heaters, which did the job. (The cabin's electrical service is very limited.)

One ugly discovery was that T-Mobile is crap, I had zero service at the cabin. Not even text messages were usable, though I did manage to get one or two. A few months earlier I had been able to work very well via AT&T, on the very same iPhone 4S.

Turns out their claim to fall back to AT&T towers is a lie. They do such fallback, but only if AT&T lets them, on a tower-by-tower basis! And, here they do not. So much for T-Mobile.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

I looked over the cabin, and walked down to the hardware store (Onan & Son) and enquired of them for people who might be interested in jacking up the cabin. There was a guy there (Kirk? Curt?) who seemed interested in the job, he came over to look at it. He said his guys would be over tomorrow morning to quote the job.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Steve and Denise, my escort vehicle, left in the morning. (The bike had behaved flawlessly, we didn't think we'd need that level of support for my return trip.) I waited until noon, but nobody ever showed up. Bzzzt! Thank you for playing.

I went for a long walk, and scoped out Dr. Roof, a business for which Jill had scraped up a recommendation. They looked substantial. I also got a recommendation for Lighthouse Realty, and in turn their recommendation for (Rowland) Bliss Construction. All this from a fellow property owner on Idaho Street.

Monday, September 9, 2019

I bid adieu to the cabin. (The bike, on its return to the farm, again behaved flawlessly, though it rained and was somewhat less comfortable than the trip out. Steve had done a good job getting it going again.)

Monday, September 16, 2019

I called Dr. Roof to get a quote on roofing. Both a re-pitching, and a re-roofing using low-pitch materials. I mentioned jacking it up, but that's not really their thing.

I also left a message at Bliss Construction.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Paid the Mutual of Enumclaw (fire) insurance bill, $100 by credit card. Account #A60 248 6064, confirmation #264084.

Monday, January 24, 2022

A week ago the neighbors to the East notified us that they'd bought the cabin to the North of us, and were having its large dying trees removed. The big fir trees on this lot, and ours, have been dying for a few years now, and are becoming serious threats to any structures within flop-down range. They'd gotten a quote to have our four trees removed too, at an incremental cost of $7,800!

Too much, IMHO. At that rate I figured I could do it myself, even with buying good tree spurs and all the harness kit. (I already have saws.) Steve was very concerned, and inserted himself into the process. He called the guy and negotiated it down to $5,800 which is still pretty extravagant if you ask me, but on the other hand I really didn't want to have to do it myself as it's pretty easy to get hurt or killed doing that sort of thing. So, I gave him the go-ahead. He'll drive down to monitor the process, supposedly on Wednesday, and I guess we'll see. They're to leave the good firewood, but remove all the branches and crap. (Stump grinding not included, we'll just let nature take care of them.) I figure Steve can have all the firewood, to sell or whatever, as there's no way I'm going to drive 10 hours (each way) cross-State for 6 cords of firewood, which would take multiple trips even with the trailer. If we simply leave the wood there I'm sure it'd get pilfered, so Steve can just have it for his trouble, if he wants it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

$5,800 check to:
Albert Woldrich
19406 U Place
Long Beach, WA 98631
Steve's not going down.

Monday, July 11, 2022

Jill had a real-estate law reference: "The lawyer people were Lukins and Annis in Spokane." I called, (509) 455-9555 and got dumped into somebody's voice-mail box. I left a message.

David Webster (from L&A) eventually got back to me, after some rounds of phone tag. After a brief discussion he recommended that I use a Clark County firm. Easier and cheaper for my interaction with the lawyer to be remote than the lawyer's with the court.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

From Gene:
Talking with our friend who is the real estate expert. Recommended lawyers:
805 Broadway Street Suite 1000
P.O. Box 1086
Vancouver Wa 98666
Phone: (360) 696-3312
Fax:    (360)696-2122
Recommended use Chicago Title for doing title search regarding trustee status of the farm deed. I do know that father did have the title through the county as trustee. Finding any trust paperwork could be most important. Getting the lawyer to sort through grandma's will and the paperwork generated by her lawyer regarding the trust is the trick I suspect. Grandma's lawyers office would have passed down any paperwork regarding trust formation and should still be available. As I recall, the Honorable R. Dewitt Jones was also the District Attorney at one point. Such paperwork should also have been filed. A good title company search should be able to sort that question. What also needs sorting is the differences between fathers directions (by will) and the instructions grandmothers will gave regarding dissolution of the trust as they are both quite specific but are not in sync as such. In addition, there is the possibility that under grandmother's will the BofA trust department should now be involved as alternate trustee. Many and diverse unlimited powers were granted to father, but do they allow for posthumous exercise, and if not is BofA bound by his directions as original executor or are they bound only by grandmother's original instruction? Sometimes things get hard to unsort. I have always preferred clear and concise directions.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

When calling Landerholm, was forwarded to: Lila L. Soelberg. (Asst. to McCoy and Stoumbos of the Firm.) She informed me of their $400/hr rate, and the $2,500 deposit requirement. They also require some infomation up front for a conflict check:
  1. How did you hear from us/who recommended you to our firm?
  2. Please provide referral name and if an attorney of our firm was recommended:
  3. Your full legal name, including middle name:
  4. Your spouse full legal name, including middle name:
  5. Your mailing address:
  6. Your contact information: cell phone, e-mail:
  7. All property addresses/parcel numbers involved:
  8. Full legal names of potential adverse parties:
  9. If a business, please provide business name:
  10. Mailing Address if available:
  11. A brief description of the legal matter/issue:
  12. Any deadlines that we need to be aware of?

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Point-by-point answer:

  1. How did you hear from us/who recommended you to our firm?

    My brother talked to a friend of his who was some kind of real estate expert. This friend recommended your firm.

  2. Please provide referral name and if an attorney of our firm was recommended:

    Gene Cathey.

  3. Your full legal name, including middle name:

    James Edward Cathey.

  4. Your spouse['s] full legal name, including middle name:

    Jill Marie Cathey, neé Hooper.

  5. Your mailing address:

    Jim Cathey
    6021 S. Campbell Rd.
    Greenacres, WA 99016

  6. Your contact information: cell phone, e-mail:; Cell: (509) 939-4176; Home: (509) 926-7801

  7. All property addresses/parcel numbers involved:

    Three properties in Washington, owned by the estate of George E. Cathey:
    Address 1501 NW 379TH St.
    La Center, WA 98629
    Treas. Acct: 257600000
    Desc: #23 SEC 28 T5N R1EWM 100 A
    0 Middle Fork Road
    Onalaska, WA
    Treas. Acct: 2161758
    Tax parcel: 032567002004
    1403 S. Idaho Ave
    Long Beach, WA 98631
    Tax parcel: 73026093007
    Desc: SEAVIEW 093 07
    Size100 acres (Farm)6 acres (Swamp)City lot (Cabin)

  8. Full legal names of potential adverse parties:

    I suppose this could only be the other beneficiaries: Stephen Scott Cathey and Gene Eric Cathey. However, we are all in accordance at this time.

  9. If a business, please provide business name:


  10. Mailing Address if available:


  11. A brief description of the legal matter/issue:

    I already have the Letters Testamentary regarding my late father's estate and my role as Executor. As part of executing my father's Will I need to subdivide the 100-acre farm, into thirds according to a plan the three equal beneficiaries (of that asset) have devised. The other two properties are to be transferred intact to their beneficiaries.

    We will need to get the farm property physically surveyed as part of this, I intend to drive posts to mark boundaries. We will need to be sure the title is clear, as there was some family talk about a Trust that the decedant's mother might have set up to ensure the education of the three current beneficiaries, but that might not have been real, or still in force, etc.

    We want to be sure we are not making any mistakes regarding continued farming operations on the three subsequent parcels. Land use, etc. Preserving the existing water right for the well that will go with the parcel that contains the well in question. (Is there a continued use requirement?)

    We need to set up formal lease arrangements for continued farming on the two parcels not inherited by the farmer. These of the "$1/year plus other valuable consideration" type. The plan is that the farming brother will pay the property taxes (the 'valuable consideration') on the leased parcels out of the farming proceeds. Likewise, $1/year for access to the well, which is not on the farmer's parcel. (He will eventually be drilling his own well, so this particular lease is not expected to endure long-term. If expired, what effect would this have on the water right?)

    Liability protection for the owners of the leased farm parcels. Is the lease itself good enough? Do we need LLC? Separate insurance?

    Further details (we have lots of those!) upon request.

  12. Any deadlines that we need to be aware of?

    No known deadlines, but it's high time to finish disposing of the estate. George died in September, 2018.

I sent this to Lila.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

First day at the cabin, got a look at the removed trees. Three of the four show signs of rot in the centers, one of them quite significant. These trees were definitely ticking time bombs!

Sadly, the tall huckleberry bushes were all removed too. But the bamboo was not. This bamboo needs to go, but bamboo eradication is not easy to do. There's enough in the neighbor's yard, from whence it came, that if we remove all of it on our side we'll still have a nice screen.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Mowed the lawn, front and back. What a mess. Looks a lot better now.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

I went up on the roof, and swept off all the debris. Bushes had started growing over the bathroom patch, I yanked them out. The roots did some damage to the roll roofing patch. I used Black Jack tar and re-caulked the seams, and the fresh tears. I glued down the one batten that had started coming up, and weighed it down with a heavy wedge of firewood. Mostly the roof seemed solid enough, and a lot better than I had feared. I think with these repairs it ought to be good for the winter. The funnels to the inside have been dealt with, at least.

I think that the necessary order of repairs is:

  1. Patch roof leaks;
  2. Repair foundation;
  3. Repair roof.
I'd really like to fix the pitch of the roof, but that is A Big Job.

I glued a cedar shingle over where the sheathing had rotted through over the small bedroom's window, at the eave.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

I loaded the truck with firewood from the front yard. I got almost all of it, which is about 1/3 of what is there to take. I mowed what was exposed by the wood removal, for best appearance. Looks a lot tidier now.

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Loaded up the truck with more wood, getting the rest from the front yard and starting on the back yard. Probably about two loads left.

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Loaded half the remaining wood in the backyard into the truck. One more trip ought to do it.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

I used a bunch of the blown-off roofing, Black Jack tar, and new roofing nails to patch the worst of the problems on the shed. It shouldn't leak (much) anymore, though naturally the patch will be short-lived.

Friday, September 1, 2023

Spent most of a week at the cabin. Tore out the now-obsolete wood box from the living room, and replaced it with a small yard-sale rolltop desk for use as a work-from-home office. Pellet bags can live in the side room, they are tidy and don't have to live all that close to the stove.

Picked up the last of the wood in the back yard. It rained and I noticed a little stream of water pouring down the inside of the bathroom wall. I used Black Jack tar on the troughs feeding under the patch roll roofing over the bathroom. (Dad, what were you thinking? Tying into existing roofing properly is the key to a good patch.) Maybe this time the leaks will be mostly stopped?

Return to Site Home