Pulled in the driveway with Lyssa and the boys around 1:45 pm after lunch at Aunt Judy’s. Once again, the boys behaved really well.

Clear skies and no wind with temperatures in the upper 30s. Great day for a visit! We’ve all been cooped up in the house too long and could use the fresh air. Jake found all of his trucks and construction equipment in the pole barn and the boys got to work making roads in the snow.


I shovelled out the deck and checked in on the keep. Absolutely zero sign of critter activity. You’d think if they were going to find their way in out of the cold, it would have happened by now, so this is excellent news. Everything looked and smelled clean. The keep has really transformed over the last year into quite the nice place to stay.


Practice makes perfect. The bottom-right photo was taken seconds before getting hung up on the tree.

I brought up the mini camera drone Lyssa got me for Christmas and decided give it a test flight. I took off from the truck’s tonneau cover as the snow was too wet and heavy to set the quadcopter on the ground. After dialing in the controls and getting used to how to orient myself, I was piloting pretty well and getting decent altitude. This lasted about five minutes—I soon found myself stuck on a tree branch about 40 feet off the ground. With no way to reach it or even shake the branch enough to dislodge the drone, I stomped off into the pole barn to take the Clark Griswold approach. I emerged with the ladder and chainsaw, made sure Lyssa kept the boys clear, and dropped the huge branch. I expected my new toy to be smashed, or at best in need of new blades or guards, but it bounced free during the landing and emerged unscathed. The battery was low at this point, though, so I packed it up. Not a terrible first flight, but I need to reign it in. I can’t just cut down a tree every time I take this out.


Adventures in aviation over, I turned my focus to ground vehicles. I started the green ATV to let it warm up. While it was idling, Lyssa and Jake started building a snowman next to the burn pit. The snow was great for packing, so they ended up with some good size snowballs in no time. I found a rasp handle and some conduit fittings in the pole barn to serve as a nose and eyes. Arms were provided by branches from my freshly-felled tree. I rigged some tie-down straps to be used as tow ropes for the boys’ sleds: Jake’s was set up to be pulled behind the ATV and Josh’s sled was tied to the back of Jake’s. I pulled the ATV around, secured the tie-down strap to the receiver hitch, and we were off.


I thought Josh might be a little hesitant, but he loved the ride!

I took it slow on the first lap around the yard to see how the sleds pulled and to make sure they were staying in the wheel ruts and not veering wildly off course. The setup actually worked better than I anticipated; Josh kept Jake from fishtailing, and the track from Jake’s sled kept Josh on course. It wasn’t long before we were flying around the yard and driveway at a pretty good clip.

After a while, Josh was more interested in riding on the “wheeler!” with me than in the sled, so we uncoupled his from the train and did a few rounds with Lyssa and Jake in the big sled. I’ve got to give my wifey credit; I did my best to shake her off, but she held strong.

Did a few more runs with Jake until his wet winter gear caught up with him and he just wanted to get out and get warm. We packed up the toys in the pole barn and were on our way around 4 pm. All in all, a great first trip for 2016.