Came up at 6:30 and got things settled in the trailer. Turned on the A/C right away as it was 80° out with 90% humidity. Had to clean out the drain hole on the back of the unit as the fan was slinging water. I need to come up with a solution to protect that from the elements and leaves and whatnot while still letting it vent properly. I spent some time in the pole barn getting a workstation set up for cutting down the trailer door, the one project I’m absolutely determined to finish this weekend. Aside from looking much better, being able to latch and lock again, and doing a better job of insulating the trailer, I’m hoping this cuts off one more point of critter entry.

I installed the adapter I needed to finish the kitchen sink drain and tested everything out. I really appreciate being able to wash up inside—sure beats hanging out by the pump with all the mosquitoes. Dressed the bed with the clean sheets I brought up with me and did some general housekeeping. Spent the rest of the night lounging and watching TV. It’s going to be a busy weekend, so I might as well relax while I can. The new “ducting” on the A/C sure seems to help it circulate better; it got down to 70° in the trailer and the difference in humidity is immediately noticeable as soon as you go outside. In bed by 10:30.


Up a little before 7:00. It’s already pretty warm out, but the humidity at least seems a little more tolerable. Off to town around 8:00 to enjoy an omelet at Aunt Judy’s. With a full stomach and charged with coffee, I covered myself with Cutter spray and headed toward the pole barn. I started up the computer out there and brought up an Instructables project for cutting down a steel door that I had bookmarked. Fired up some Bob and Brian albums on the pole barn stereo, too. They make for good company up here. I moved some of the bird feeders and the birdbath from the big trailer over by the deck and used up the last of the sunflower seed filling them up. Took a break at 10:00 to get online for tickets to the Polar Express event at the National Railroad Museum the second they went on sale. Nabbed us some great seats for December and got back to work.

Before I could start modifying the new door, I had to rip out the old one. But first, I wanted to make sure I kept as much cold air in, and bugs out of, the trailer as possible during the project. I removed the inside door trim and hung a moving blanket in the door frame with some scrap boards and drywall screws. It worked pretty well. I took the doors and frame off and ended up having to replace some rotten portions of the subfloor and rough opening. I thought the floor had a little too much give right by the door, so I suppose I should have expected this. Thankfully, the pole barn had plenty of plywood and “space-age insulation” available to get things patched up. I took a late lunch, grabbing some Subway around 3 pm. The only downside to the floor replacement effort was that it took several hours out of my work day. I was starting to worry I might not have enough time to finish the door before dark. I’ve never hung an exterior door before so I wasn’t sure how much time to give myself.


I shouldn’t have worried. Cutting down the door and frame went much quicker than I had anticipated, thanks to clear instructions and proper tools. My newer Dremel goodies, the Multi Max oscillating tool and Saw Max 3″ multi-material saw, are real time-savers. After a quick test fit of just the frame, it was time for the moment of truth. I hung the door back in the frame, applied a bead of silicone to the brickmould and rough opening, and shimmed the door in place from the inside. Once I made sure it was plumb and secured it to the trailer, I shut the door.


Lined up and airtight on the first try! The biggest, longest oversight on the trailer has now been addressed. I finished screwing it in and installed the doorknob. I was going to finish sealing the seams in the frame, but ran out of silicone. I’ll have to make a hardware run tomorrow. I’m glad I got the model with a window; it brightens up that spot of the trailer now. After cleaning up the mess from the floor demolition and putting most of my tools away, I reapplied the interior door trim. Looks like it belongs there.


It was a little after 8:00 by the time I put in a call for pizza delivery. The girl at Christianos told me it’d be at least an hour wait, which was fine by me. I still get a kick out of the fact that someone delivers all the way out here. I plopped down into the recliner and watched Clueless while I waited for the driver.

Around 9:20, I decided to wait out on the deck. The humidity had dropped to very comfortable levels and there was a light breeze. I kept the outside lights off and let myself acclimate to the moonlight. I started to talk out loud to Grandpa. It just started flowing. This isn’t something I usually do up here. I often feel like simply being here and working on something is my way of connecting with him. Sometimes at night I’ll just take in the quietness and get the same feeling. But, for some reason, tonight I felt like talking and I did so for quite a while. The last thing I said was “I know it doesn’t work this way, and it almost feels like saying it out loud would ‘break the spell’, but would you send me an owl? It’s been awhile since I heard one here by myself.”

I stayed there on the deck watching the moon and clouds for a little while, probably only two to three minutes, and that’s exactly what I heard. The owl sounded like it was out by the road at the end of the driveway. I stood there awestruck for a moment when I heard a car and my pizza showed up. The delivery driver was a friendly, middle-aged guy who immediately started commenting on what a nice place we had and how he used to have family hunting property in the area, too. He told me to “hold on to this forever, because you’ve got something special out here.” He drove off and I brought the food into the trailer. I stepped back out on the deck, still a little gobsmacked at what was essentially a direct and immediate answer to a prayer, when my owl started calling again.

I’ve never been ashamed of Puckaway for its general state of disarray and disrepair. I love this place, the man it represents to me, and the work he put into it. And I really do love the work I do up here. It’s a challenge, but it’s fun and feels rewarding. However, it’s not something I expect other people to readily understand or appreciate for themselves. If someone didn’t grow up here like I did, walking in the footsteps of my hero and experiencing an entire childhood’s worth of happy memories and traditions, how could I expect them to see anything but the piles of bricks, scrap metal, and rotting boards? Because of that, I’ve always been very protective of this place and selective of the people I share it with. And even with the people I trust, I always feel like I need to explain why it is that I love it here before they’ll ever be able to.

But I just had a stranger pull in and immediately make a point to tell me that he sees Puckaway the same way I do.

Thank you, Beeba. For both of the owls you sent me.

I listened to the calls for a while longer until hunger took hold and I came back inside and ate. I took a hot shower and was in bed by 11:00.


Slept in a little this morning, getting out of bed close to 8:30. Slept wonderfully. I think part of it is because the A/C seems to be doing a better job now that the door actually seals up instead of letting all the cold air out. I was on the road to Berlin by 9:00 to get more silicone to finish sealing things up. I think this trailer’s seen enough water damage already. Turns out Kitz and Pfeil also sells bird feed at competitive prices, so I bought a 50lb bag of sunflower seed while I was there. Grabbed some McD’s breakfast burritos and coffee to eat on the ride back. Started a bonfire to get rid of my garbage, downed branches I had collected, and project messes, including the old trailer door and frame. RIP. Used the new silicone to seal the seams in and around the new door frame as well as treat a few other spots on the outside of the trailer. Also hit all the outside outlets on the property with a bead around their seams. Never can have too much waterproofing.


With the door out of the way, and after my experience the night before, I was more than sufficiently motivated to start work on another project. I decided the deck rails were going to go up next. I started by cutting 4x4s to size to make the ten rail posts. I also pre-drilled the holes for the lag bolts that would secure them to the deck frame. With the prep work done, I hauled the posts over to the deck and started mounting them.

It’s not easy for just one person to hold a heavy, treated post in place while simultaneously trying to keep it plumb and drill through it, but it’s made much more manageable with a good, strong clamp. I had all of the posts installed when I stopped for cold pizza lunch around 1:00. Planning ahead in SketchUp is such a huge help; everything went into place exactly as planned. It was like following Lego instructions. By 6:00, I had all of the rail boards and caps installed. The deck actually seems bigger with the railing up, probably because you can go right to the edge now without feeling like you’ll fall off. I decided to hold off on the two stair rails since it’ll involve a little digging and the 4×4 I had set aside for the posts has a pretty bad bend to it now. I’ll bring a better one up next trip along with my drill press and miter saw for cutting the spindles down to size. This thing is very close to being done and looks even better than I had imagined. With the deck, the new door, and the bird feeders, it’s starting to look pretty civilized in my little corner of the world.


I cleaned up the rest of the project mess in the pole barn but left all my tools up here. It’d just take too much time to pack everything up, and I wanted to get home before my boys were asleep. Made sure the fire was out, tidied up in the trailer, and shut everything down. Locked(!) the door and was out of here before 7:00. A productive and powerful weekend for me, to say the least.