Friday

Rolled in at 6:30 with Lyssa, Jake, Josh, and Hannah. The boys both fell asleep on the way and were both finishing their Culvers when we got here. Hannah was glad to be back and for the break in the oppressive heat we’ve had for the last week. Once they were done eating, the boys made a beeline for the pole barn to hop on their Power Wheels and roam the grounds. They both liked that they could “help” me by running over the trench dirt to pack it down.

A perfect day for a Puckaway trip.

I had a bunch of new tech goodies in the back of the truck that I was itching to play with. I got two more 8-port Unifi PoE switches, one for the pole barn and one for the big trailer, and another wireless access point that I want to mount to the big trailer’s antenna mast. I also plan on relocating one of the current access points from outside the keep to inside the pole barn. We don’t have well and septic, but we do have mesh wifi and three-building gigabit Ethernet. Priorities! I adopted the new Unifi gear into the Controller and applied all the waiting firmware updates, then switched gears and set out to clean up the pole barn. After last month’s electrical project, it was in rough shape. I left tools and project mess everywhere since I was focused on trying to finish the wiring in time.

Be prepared.

As I was making headway reclaiming the pole barn, I discovered a bunch of things that I wanted to throw away were things the boys thought were awesome. They festooned their Power Wheels with the marking flags from the electric co-op, made play swords from the scrap conduit, and thought the empty spool was the coolest thing ever. I also found some things I picked up for the keep last time I was at Menards: a smoke detector and a carbon monoxide alarm. I took a few minutes to mount these up. I think I’ll feel better running the propane heater this winter knowing that it’s probably not silently killing me.

Lyssa was busy reconnecting with her girl scout past as she tried starting a fire from some kindling and matches. Jake was super interested in this, so I told him and Josh to load up from the last remaining driveway woodpile if they wanted a bonfire. I wasn’t expecting much, but they really worked hard and brought over several loads in Jake’s garden cart.

Lyssa got some sparklers out for the boys and we all enjoyed the bonfire for a bit before coming in for the night a little before 10:00. The boys fell asleep pretty quickly and Lyssa and I followed suit soon after.

Saturday

After a nice lazy start to our day, we headed to Aunt Judy’s around 10:00.  The staff was happy to see the boys again, who certainly brought their appetites. Jake ended up finishing almost half of Josh’s omelet after wolfing down his own.

The eye in the sky.

After breakfast, the boys kept busy with their Power Wheels and new treasures from my electric project while Lyssa chilled out to an audiobook in a lawn chair. With the pole barn back in order, I kept busy with the other new toys I brought up this trip. I got an IP camera kit consisting of four 1080p dome cameras and a 2TB NVR for really cheap on Amazon. With the new network infrastructure in place, this will give me some new angles up here and will be a bump in quality over the two 720p cameras already in place.

I started by mounting a camera above the main pole barn garage door. I wanted something pointed back at the keep. This also gave me an opportunity to mount the wireless AP high up in the front of the pole barn. Once I had all the wiring and camera configuration done, I pulled up a live view on my phone to help me aim everything as I secured the mount. These new cameras have a really impressive field of view! I can see from the driveway where the truck box used to be all the way over to the outhouse.

While I was hanging the camera, Lyssa gathered the boys and took them to Green Lake for a swim. The same boys that were hesitant to go in last year after seeing a dead fish floating by the shore had no such hesitation this year. They got themselves good and tired splashing around in the lake.

I was getting the other cameras configured using the laptop in the pole barn when I heard something rustling around outside. Hannah was in the keep and everyone else was still at the beach, so I walked out to check things out. A turkey and her “turklet” were wandering around the woodshed ruins. I spooked them and the mama turkey flapped her way up almost 50 feet into one of the oaks. The baby had less luck gaining altitude but still flapped up and out-of-sight, squawking the whole way.

Appropriately proud.

I had moved on to replacing the existing two cameras and was just finishing with the one by the keep’s bedroom when Lyssa and the boys pulled back in. After getting rinsed off in the shower and re-dressed, they were ready to get back out and do some work. They got the fire going again all by themselves with more garden cartfuls of lumber from the woodpile. We’ve got another generation of firetenders now.

I set aside the camera project for a while and turned my attention to the grill. I guess it wasn’t designed to be dragged back and forth a few hundred feet at a time over bumpy terrain as the top had come uncoupled from the base in a few places. Upon further inspection, this is because it was only ever held together by a few machine screws that mounted from the bottom and they had rattled themselves out. Not the best engineering decision. I didn’t have any screws with the same thread pitch, so I got some thinner ones and secured them with locknuts from the other side. This should hold a little better.

I think this is the angle that’s going to give us the best wildlife shots.

With the grill back in the game, Lyssa put it to use and started dinner. We had cheesy brats, baked beans, corn, and she even cooked the boys’ frozen mac & cheese in some foil. I mounted the last camera after dinner. Originally I was going to place it somewhere on the big trailer, but couldn’t think of a good way to run the wiring and didn’t want to deal with all the bats, wasps, and godknowswhatelse that live in the roof and siding of that place. I ended up mounting it over the other garage door of the pole barn. It faces east and captures the entire south yard from the big trailer to the sandpit.

We decided to stay another day, so long as the weather was still nice and the boys were having fun. Jake, Josh and I grabbed our helmets and took the blue ATV down to the boat landing and back where the water is back to its normal level. Lots of folks are up for the weekend, too.

When we got back, Lyssa took the truck and made a quick run to town for some breakfast supplies. I showered up and settled in for the night, periodically checking on and making adjustments to the new cameras from my laptop. Once the sun went down, Marquette started their fireworks show and Hannah was not impressed. She ended up alternating between the foot of the futon by the boys and crammed as tightly as she could at the foot of the bed in the bedroom. Despite this commotion, both of the boys were passed out before 10:00 after having a full, fun day.

I wasn’t quite ready to fall asleep and I had just downloaded Ready Player One, so I paired my bluetooth headphones to the NUC in the living room and watched from the recliner as the boys dozed. I made it to bed right around midnight.

Sunday

I can see everything!

Woke up to the smell of fresh coffee and sounds of breakfast getting prepared. Lyssa made fried eggs and sausage for us all, which the boys pretty much inhaled so they could get outside to play.

I set up the NVR that came with the cameras so that it runs off of the living room TV. It’s not protected by the UPS this way, but it’s not like we’re depending on it for anything. It’s configured to record based on motion and I’m hoping it’ll just be neat to check out if we want more clarity on something we saw on the timelapse videos. The four-up live view is pretty cool, too. Lyssa took the boys for an ATV ride and it was fun to watch them go from one camera to the next.

Mom’s got a birthday dinner in the works for Lyssa tonight, so we started packing up. I wanted to fill the feeders first, and ended up hanging one we found in the garage in Mayville to replace the brittle plastic tower feeder. I also finally put up the little owl-shaped feeder on a low branch by the platform feeder. With all of them full and some corn spread for the deer, we closed up the garden shed and were on our way out around 1:00.

Thanks to the boys’ efforts, the pit feasted all weekend.