Ten Years of Progress

Ten years ago in the spring of 2006, Marge and I set out on a crazy adventure. Instead of sailing off on the boat to faraway lands unknown and probably spending every last cent we had to “Live the Dream” of being Sailing Cruisers, we purchased 10 acres of forest land adjacent to the Douglas County Forest in Brule, Wisconsin. As we stood on the dirt road staring into the forest with only the vaguest idea of what we wanted to achieve, we probably had more apprehension than either of us wanted to admit. With little time to spare wondering if we made the right decision, we plowed our way into the forest with a chainsaw, a lawnmower, and sometimes our bare hands to find a spot in which to build ourselves a home. This was thick forest — home to the creatures of Northern Wisconsin and we were about to make it our home too. We sold our houses, moved into an apartment and ultimately our boat and with almost everything we owned in storage we began the process of building a house. From May until October of 2006 we cut trees, cleared brush, and built our home. With the help of our families and friends we raised walls and roof trusses, sheathed and enclosed walls and installed windows and doors. We roofed the house in metal, ran all the electrical wiring and insulated.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter months of nearly continuous construction we fired up the wood boiler exactly one day before it started to snow in the fall. But we were in and we were warm. The house was entirely unfinished on the inside, and Marge and I camped out on the floor with an air mattress and sleeping bags for a couple of months before we could even get interior walls constructed. Our first privacy inside the house was a plastic tarp hung up on a bare stud wall to somewhat separate our bedroom from the rest of the house. We kept going and finishing and building as we could afford and over about two years got to a point where we could live comfortably in our home with most of the house finished.



OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI started and ran a business from home from 2006 into 2009 and Marge found work in Duluth at Fitger’s, so we had successfully made the transition to the northland. I started working at Jamar in 2009, we built a garage in 2009 and we got married in 2009. With rarely a break in our lives, we have remained busy, but became comfortable in our unfinished home. Many of you have visited and been very gracious when it comes to the lack of finish we have shown, but it was always our intention to actually finish this project as we have so many others we wish to pursue. When we started the house project I had promised Marge that we would be 100% finished within 5 years, but I wasn’t even close in my prediction. This year marks 10 years that we have been in our forest home, and we have now undertaken the final few steps to make this a completed home. With all of our interior trim work now varnished and installed, and our flooring installed, we are going to call this done. We have a couple of things to finish outside that I will do this spring, and I suppose there are a few spots that could use a touch up of paint again. But for the most part, we are complete.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese last ten years, we have been as comfortable in our forest home as the deer have ever been. We enjoy the freedom to be as loud and goofy as we want, and our porcupine and turtle neighbors never complain (notwithstanding the ongoing war with mice we are engaged in, a war of attrition really). It is our greatest hope that 500 years after we’re gone, the forest is none the wiser to our intrusions.

We had decided at the time to build a home first and to sail later. Our thoughts were that if we sailed first, we would most likely just keep sailing as long as we could and until all the money was gone—leaving us broke and homeless and most likely in no shape mentally to reenter the workforce. So we have been ultra-diligent in our efforts to work and save and build, and all the while we have never lost our desire to go cruising. So we work and save our pennies and plan our escape for “Someday”.

I’ve uploaded a new Building Brule Acres Photo Album to the Photos section of our Blog for those interested in seeing a fuller picture of this portion of our journey.

As we celebrate what the last ten years has brought us, we look forward to the next ten years.  We have so many exciting things to look forward to, we’re just giddy thinking about it.  We hope that you will all follow us and be a part of our amazing lives.  If you haven’t seen it already, check out the new landing page for Sail Wandering Toes for a glimpse of where this is all heading. It will eventually become the main hub of information about our sailing journeys, with this blog remaining as the location of our stories and photos.  And for super-geeky insider information, you can click onto Wanderingtoes.com.  After a lengthy wait and I think a crazy amount of luck, I was able to purchase this domain name to add to the journey of our Wandering Toes!  There’s not much to look at there yet, but I have many ideas racing through my head about what that will be for, and you’ll just have to stay tuned to find out.

Thank You Friends!

David and Marge Back


7 thoughts on “Ten Years of Progress”

  1. Hey Dave,
    Nice job on the writing, you’ve created a very cool space, both online & in the great north! Your pics are great as well, look forward to seeing your next posts and hearing about your next adventures!


  2. Hey Dave, you should have been a writer. Nice summary. Hope to see your finished home sometime this summer and maybe get to sail a bit with you and Marge. Congratulations! May the next 10 years be as good!


    1. Hi Buffy,
      Thank you for your kind words, but I am a writer! I hope it doesn’t need to be a job description to join the writer’s club! I’ve always liked writing and am really enjoying this outlet to be able to share it with everyone in a more public way. I do hope to improve my writing skills as I continue to document our adventures. We have a ton of sailing planned for this summer so you’ll just have to arrange with Marge a time to hop aboard. Now you just need to encourage your sister to start writing here too! She has some great ideas and many things to share from her perspective.


  3. Wow bro! What great memories. Love seeing all the pics. You most certainly have been on a fantastic journey 🙂 Love you guys!


  4. Looked at all 211 photos on your Blog of Building Brule Acres–great to finally see how it all went up, as we weren’t there for most of the building. I have to ask, though, are you going to make another blog about building the Garage-Mahal? I remember sending you guys 100s of photos when we were up helping with that. Just wondering…


    1. Hi Kristy, Thanks!
      Yes, it has all been fun for us, and I just thought the milestone of completion should get a separate mention in a blog post for everyone to see. I have those great garage building pictures you took for us saved and just need to get them into an order that’s appropriate to be shared here. I do intend to get at least a picture album of the building of the “Garage-mahal” as it came to be known online in the near future. I don’t know yet if I’ll write a separate blog post about the garage. We will have to see what inspires me to write!


  5. Beautiful writing, as always, and fun to remember this journey with you! I can hardly believe it has been that long! Can’t wait to see everything finished–maybe sometime this summer! Love you guys!


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