Rode up with Lyssa, Josh, and Hannah around 12:30. Jake’s up in Presque Isle with my mom and Josh is excited to have this place to himself. We set Hannah free to bolt around the grounds and I started charging the Power Wheels for Josh to use. Lyssa took him for a four-wheeler ride while I lit up the burnpit to start immolating the brush I had collected during the last trip up. Everything was so dried out that the pit looked like a Saturn V rocket pointed in the wrong direction. Hannah promptly hid in the back of the pole barn. Lyssa’s getting over a summer cold, so after her ride with Josh she relaxed in one of the lounge chairs. They both took refuge in the keep when the smoke picked up, though.

I started cleaning up around the wood shed foundation and unearthed the large prybar from under a stack of shingles. So that’s where it went last fall. I put it to good use by pulling up the remaining wall-base 2x4s from the foundation. This got me motivated, so I grabbed the green ATV and small trailer, backed up to the foundation, and started prying up and collecting all of the hardboard floor panels. I also rolled up and gathered all of the remaining linoleum and floor backing. It was in pretty rough shape. Hannah watched me from the ATV trail on the backside of the pole barn. I think she liked having literal firewall between her and the burn pit.

The panels were soaking wet. There was a bunch of trapped moisture between them and the plank/plywood subfloor. This made burning a little difficult, but not by much. After reducing the first brush pile to ash, the coal pit was so hot that it steam-dried the hardboard panels fairly quickly. Then they caught fire and raised the heat even more. I alternated layers of hardboard panels and brush from the overflow pile to give the panels plenty of room to air out.

As I was prying panels, I unearthed a little salamander and called Josh over from his Power Wheels to check it out. I thought he’d be a little squeamish, but his first question was an excited, “Can I touch it?!” He was similarly enthusiastic later in the afternoon when I found and caught a frog while raking around the pit. I’m proud of my little nature guy.

I heard some equipment moving through the woods to the south and saw Peter making his way into the yard with his tractor. He was returning our brush hog after using it to mow some trails for a friend down by the riverfront. We chatted for a bit and he told me since he noticed the trimming work I did last time I was up, he used his tractor’s forks to pull up the roots of the trees I had removed. Peter’s the best neighbor ever.

Around 4:00, I finally had the last of the panels ripped up. Toward the end, I started randomly stepping through rotten subfloor planks. Once this dries out, the rest of the foundation should come apart quickly. I was hot, sweaty, and tired, so I got on the blue ATV with Josh and we took a ride down to the boat landing and back. We also ran the long marsh loop and scared up a bedded-down doe near Steve’s stand. Josh was thrilled that he got to see so many different animals this trip.

After parking the ATVs in the pole barn, we started packing up to head out. I wanted to try something before we left so I grabbed one of the three currently unused smart plugs from the keep closet and got it configured to use Puckanet wifi. I brought it out to the pole barn, plugged it in, and connected it to the extension cord with the Power Wheels chargers on it. I never leave these chargers on when we’re away because I don’t know if they’re smart chargers that can “float” when the batteries are full or not. I don’t want to risk overcharging the batteries and possibly starting a fire. But now I can remotely power them up a day before we’re coming up and ensure the boys will have fully charged vehicles to roam the grounds with.

Satisfied with the day’s progress and sure that the coals weren’t going to cause any trouble, we left around 5:00.