Lyssa, the boys, Hannah, and I all met my dad at Aunt Judy’s around 10:30. Jake was excited to show Grandpa that his picture was up on the wall. Hannah waited patiently in the truck while we had breakfast, guarding our trailer full of ATVs. We were all on the road to Puckaway by 11:15. It’s unseasonably warm for spring and a beautiful sunny day.

Ready to explore!

As we drove down the driveway, Lyssa spotted a big mound of dirt at the edge of the yard in front of the keep. Scanning the yard, I saw several more. I was confused for a second until I realized the pattern—all of the these piles were around stumps. Rather, they were around craters where stumps used to be. Someone had come through with a stump grinder and dispatched a total of 14 of them. I wandered the yard, grinning as I took tally. The projects are now completing themselves up here!

A loaded burrito.

While I was admiring our new lawnholes, Dad tried calling Peter to see if he was responsible but got no answer. Lyssa kept an eye on the boys while I helped Dad haul a twin bed frame and mattress into the big house trailer. We’ll be using this, along with the other bed frame that’s already up here, to replace the sketchy bunk bed in the main bedroom in there. As this will eventually translate into more places to sleep during Puckaweekend, I’m all for it. Dad took off shortly after getting unloaded. I drove the ATVs off the trailer and parked them. No trail riding today; everything’s much too wet.

It’s just a modest dent in the overall pile, but still an important start for clearing this all out.

The boys brought up all their “explorer” gear and kept busy looking for bugs and other nature goodies while Hannah ran laps around the yard. Lyssa relaxed in her hammock and I started getting the place prepped for another year’s worth of habitation. While I was organizing things in the pole barn, my “brick guy” and his friend showed up. I heard through someone at work that this guy was looking for a bunch of bricks for a project. I was more than happy to help him out as it meant chipping away at the giant pile in the middle of the yard. They were here about an hour and took around 400 of the big yellow bricks. Happy to see them go.

Jake and I hopped on the green ATV and headed over to Danny’s to see if he knew anything about the mystery of the missing stumps. Turns out it was Peter after all; he had also gotten a bunch in Danny’s yard. We have the best neighbors. We talked for a bit and Hannah got to meet his new puppy, Buck. Buck sure likes to bark. We headed back after Lyssa and Josh came to look for us.

I turned my attention to the keep, running the vacuum, cleaning out and turning on the fridge, and wiping down all the counters. Oddly enough, the only sign of critters anywhere in the keep was in the freezer. I got the NUC set up by the TV and temporarily plugged in the rest of the Puckanet (Pi server, 4G router, WiFi router, and UPS) on the floor next to the recliner. I’m planning on moving all of this into the closet during a later trip this year.

While I was cleaning, the boys were busy doing the opposite. They had gotten into the muddy low parts of the yard out toward the marsh entrance. Lyssa gave up after they both got slightly wet and muddy, and told them to go nuts. They took their trucks through mud runs and generally acted like you’d expect boys their age to act. Hannah fed off of their excitement and was tearing up and down the marsh trails. She took a flying leap over the downed tree at the base of the trails, cleared it, but couldn’t stick the landing. Now all the kids are covered in mud. I started the pump and let it run, as we’re going to need all the water we can get.

It’s going to be so much easier to mow here with the stumps gone.

Lyssa got out the pool in the hopes of rinsing everyone off, but I reminded her that we have a proper hot shower now. After the pool was filled enough to slosh around in, I started filling the reservoir drum behind the keep. This takes 45 to 50 minutes to fill from empty, so I used that time to make a quick run into town for supplies at Dollar General. I got some ice, 64 bottles of water, and a collapsible step stool for the boys.

Back at the keep, I set up the pump and water heater and got the plumbing hooked back up. Once all the air bled out of the lines and I knew it was heating correctly, Lyssa corralled the boys into the shower and got the rest of the mud off of them. Hannah waited patiently outside. I’m sure she’ll end up spending plenty of time in the keep. Just not today.

A pooped pooch.

I swapped out the storm windows for screens and opened the place up as Lyssa finished cleaning up the boys. They ate some snacks and watched TV while we cleaned up the yard and started putting things away. It’s crazy to me how quickly the keep can be prepped for the year now. It used to take a whole weekend’s worth of cleaning and moving stuff around, and even then there wasn’t much in the way of creature comforts. Now we can go from locked up and shut down to hot showers, fresh air, and Ducktales in just a few hours.

Hannah was now dry enough that I could just brush the sand and dirt off of her, which was a relief. We closed up the keep and were on the road home by 5:30. I’m looking forward to filling in those stump holes and getting the yard cleaned up now.