Shambala – Three Dog Night

We’ve done a lot since last year. High time for a recap!

January started off with a (literal) crash as I deftly maneuvered my toy drone Christmas present right into a tree. Consequently, tree trimming started early this year. The grounds didn’t see any activity again until late March with two quick, back-to-back supply trips. After another hauling run in early April, the keep was ready for the year. It’s never been easier to open this place for business.

We had our first family day trip in mid-April and the deck gained some patio furniture. We also discovered that the bird feeders were getting destroyed, so I sunk a 14′ post in the ground to keep them elevated. By the end of the month, the fridge was stocked for the season, we had our first bonfire, and for the first time in a decade, goldfinches were back in the feeders. The keep got brand new window screens throughout and I rigged a portable pressure-washer supply tank out of an RV pump and 55-gallon drum. Things are starting to look pretty good around here.

Emboldened by the success of the pressure washer pump, I started May by giving the keep indoor plumbing. For the first time ever at Puckaway, the faucets aren’t just decorative! And thanks to the prep work provided by the pressure washer, I was able to stain the deck, picnic table, swing, and feeder pole. We had a lot of day trips this month: I had my first trip with just my two boys when we came to check on the stain, brought the Puckanet online for 24/7 connectivity, and Lyssa hosted a grill-out with my folks on our fancy new deck. We also had our first overnight trip as a family of four, during which the keep finally got venetian blinds, I took some trial whacks at the wood shed to see how hard it would be to dismantle, and the NASCAR leaf-collecting trailer was born.

Dad got a 14′ aluminum ramp trailer for hauling both ATVs, so I brought them back to Oshkosh for cleanup and tune-ups. I rang in June with yard work, reclaiming the clearing/garden behind the outhouse, pulling all the fence posts out of the brick garden, and collecting all the leaves and clippings from the yard for the first time in years. The whole family, along with the Voights, were up for the June Dairy Days parade. Red and I also battled sweltering heat to beat back the scrub growth in the driveway entrance. We ended the month with a visit from my brother-in-law, Kent. Our woodsy, marshy getaway made a positive impression on him.

We didn’t visit much in July; to make up for it I posted an ode to my tools and the first video log recorded by Richie 25 years ago. We made a family day trip in the middle of the month and the keep closet got a much needed renovation. I also furthered the proud Puckaway tradition of accumulating stuff that we don’t really need by dropping off a pool table and a duck boat, courtesy of the previous owners of Farmer Joe’s work shed.

August brought a return to lawn care and a fancy shelf for the Puckanet. In September, I shifted focus to the structures. The keep got a fresh coat of paint (including the roof) and some new programmable LED deck lights. We also cleared out a ton of paneling from beneath the big house trailer. Anything salvageable was hauled back home for the next big project: Outhouse 2.0.

We started October with the development of a secret project for Puckaweekend, the installation of the new outhouse, and a dumptruck full of gravel. And then, of course, there was Puckaweekend 2016. This year it doubled as Sean’s bachelor party, making it the third one that Puckaway has hosted. We made up for a lack of trap shooting and pontooning this time around by completely demolishing the wood shed, burning it along with the old outhouse. RIP, you smelly old structures.

October went out with a fun day trip with Jake and Josh followed by a solo work weekend where I collected fall leaves for the first time since I was in high school, did some major trimming all over the yard, and managed to trap myself on the roof of the big house trailer.

Sam got his first buck this year at deer camp, which was my last overnight stay for the year. I came up after the first snow to grab the blue ATV and plow, and we said goodbye to 2016 on New Year’s Eve with a few rounds of ATV sledding.

Going into this year, I didn’t think we’d be able to top the progress we made in 2015. And yet, we absolutely crushed it! Creature comforts were added and refined left and right, the yard looks better than ever, and we’ve burnt two of the major eyesores to ash. To me, however, the biggest difference is that we’ve established routines and expectations. You can come up here with just the clothes on your back and walk right into fully-equipped lodging on maintained grounds. It’s never been so easy to be up here. I love it. Once again, I give sincere and heartfelt appreciation to all of you that have helped out around here this past year. Thank you for sharing Puckaway with me and thank you for keeping me driven to make it the best place it can be.