Pulled in the driveway at 5:45 am to turn on the AC in the keep. The forecast is calling for humid days with highs in the 90s all weekend. I wanted to make sure we’d have a comfortable place to get out of the heat and I figured our only shot would be to give the air conditioner a head start. I headed back to Oshkosh as I still had to work a full day. Throughout the day, I kept an eye on the temperature and humidity readings from the Raspberry Pi server in the keep, and was pleased to see that it was able to maintain a 10 to 12 degree difference from the outside temps with humidity hovering around 55%. We’re certainly pushing the limits of that little 5,000 BTU window unit by asking it to cool a 40-year-old mobile home, but it’s making a valiant effort.
Arrived for the second time around 4:00 pm with Lyssa and the boys. Jake and Josh went off on their Power Wheels to explore the yard and were particularly interested in the new area by the bird feeders. The heat and humidity are pretty intense, but the keep is a nice little oasis. I’m not a fan of waking up early, but I’m definitely glad I did today.
We brought up a small pool for the boys and I set it up by the picnic table and swing. I drove a pipe into the ground next to it and hung the hoze nozzle from it, giving Jake and Josh a makeshift sprinkler as the pool filled. Lyssa worked on stocking the fridge and prepping the keep while I headed to the pole barn. The replacement starter solenoid for the blue ATV finally came, so I took a few minutes to install it. No more pull-starting! The ATV fires up with the turn of a key again, just as God intended. I drove it out to show the boys and was signalled to come in for dinner. We had grilled burgers and veggies at the keep’s kitchen table; it’s way too hot and humid to enjoy a meal on the deck today. While we ate, I brought up the live stream from the bird feeder camera on the living room TV. This let us keep the shades drawn to keep the heat down while allowing the boys to keep an eye on the animal traffic. Just as we were finishing up, Jake spotted a deer. Good to know they’re taking advantage of the food block out there. The doe was being pretty cautious but stuck around a good 15 minutes or so. It’s crazy how bright and colorful their coats get this time of year.
Storms were in the forecast for the night, so we put away all the kids’ toys, drained the pool, and closed up the pole barn. We spent our evening indoors and vegged out on the couch watching movies. The wind and rain hit hard around 8:00 and brought a cold front and humidity drop big enough that we could turn off the AC and open the windows.
Lyssa and Jake took the bedroom while Josh and I got the futon. It rained off and on throughout the night but stayed pleasantly cool out. I read for a bit and turned out the lights around 10:30.
I was kick-started out of sound sleep several times last night because Josh couldn’t stop moving around. I wonder what that kid dreams about. We were all up and dressed by 7:30. I closed up the keep and turned the AC back on as we’re supposed to have highs in the low 90s today. I also started up the AC in the big trailer and turned on the ceiling fans. The Voights are coming up today and will be staying the night in there.
We made it to Aunt Judy’s around 8:00 where the boys brought their voracious appetites, as usual. After breakfast, we checked out the flea market. It’s gotten a lot better over the past couple of years. For a while, all you would find was cheap dollar-store tools and toys, printed t-shirts, caps, etc. There’s a lot more crafts, food, and antiques now. We told Jake he could pick out one thing to buy and he decided on a small metal tractor and hay trailer.
We weren’t back at Puckaway too long before the Voights pulled in. Josh was excited to see Emmett and show him around. The boys spent some time together playing “construction site” around the pole barn while the adults got lodging situated. The big trailer is refreshingly cool and surprisingly fresh-smelling, so at least our guests will have some decent accommodations tonight.
Shortly after 11:00, we all left for Dodge Memorial County Park on the south side of Green Lake where we met up with the Saucedas. We put together a pair of picnic tables in the shade and set up a base camp while the kids played in the water. There was a constant breeze down by the lake that took a lot of the bite out of the heat; perfect beach weather. We had some drinks and ate lunch together, then parted ways with Ashley, Paco, and the girls around 2:30 to head back to Puckaway.
The boys dozed a little as we rode back, so we tried to get them to nap in the keep. No dice. After about a half-hour of “quiet time,” we gave up and headed back outside for the afternoon. Lyssa and Jenny kept an eye on the three boys while Red and I tackled the only real project I had slated for the weekend: trimming the overgrowth along the driveway entrance. It’s really a two-man job, otherwise you’re constantly switching between trimming and clearing. I worked with the loppers while Red stacked everything I had cut onto the utility trailer hooked up to the green ATV. Once I was done with all of the smaller trees, I switched to the chainsaw to take care of the birch that had fallen on the edge of the driveway. I also tackled some other dead and leaning trees that had the potential to become future roadblocks. By the time we were done, we had hauled five trailer loads to the pit, ending up with a sizeable pile of branches.
Red and I each took some time to wash up after an afternoon of sweaty work in the muggy heat. I just filled the portable shower tank with water from the keep’s reservoir, but Red opted for the “maximum refreshment” option of an ice-cold shower straight from the hose. He’s a braver man than I am. While I finished putting tools away and cleaning up around the yard, Lyssa got to work on dinner. She grilled up some excellent barbeque chicken along with some marinated asparagus, zucchini coins, and mushrooms. Absolutely delicious! The boys at least each tried some chicken, but had some of their usual fare: mac & cheese and corn. The Voights took over the grill after Lyssa was done and they had some burgers in the big trailer.
Around 6:45, we headed toward Markesan for the June Dairy Days Farm Parade. Given how much Jacob loved it last year, we knew we had to make it a tradition. Even though the streets were lined with people, we managed to find parking and seating in the exact same places as last summer. This worked out great; we were the first group of people after the bridge, so the boys had little to no competition for all the parade candy. I planned ahead this time and brought ear plugs for Jake and Josh, which really helped keep them engrossed in the parade. Instead of spending all their time covering their ears, the boys were pumping their arms to get the semi drivers to blast their air horns. All three of the kids made off with an impressive candy haul and a lot of string cheese was being passed out this year, which was new. To top it off, Red and I each got handed a can of Busch Light from the folks with the Piggly Wiggly float. God bless America.
If anything, the parade was even bigger this year, with over 60 different vehicles. Our boys were in their element, for sure. We didn’t leave Markesan until a little after 8:30 and both of the boys were fast asleep by the time we pulled back into the driveway. We were able to wake up Jake enough to get him in jammies and have him go to the bathroom one more time before bed but Josh was just plain done. It was a great big day for such a little guy.
With the boys down, Lyssa and I joined the Voights (Emmett included—that kid had no interest in sleep) outside to try to get a bonfire going. While there was plenty of raw material, it was very green. Combine that with the hot, humid air, and you’ve got a very reluctant fire. After a few attempts with boat gas as a catalyst (one of them creating a very impressive and unexpected shock wave when igniting), I had to change my tactics. We got some scrap plywood out from under the big trailer, positioned it around one side of the pile, and covered it with an old Uhaul blanket. I gave this a splash of propellant and re-lit the pile. Finally, we had enough dry material concentrated in one area to get a coal pit going. Our burning will not be deterred.
Lyssa called it a night around 10:30. Jenny lasted about an hour longer, but Red and I stayed out until after 1:00 watching the last of the fire burn down and singing along with music from the pole barn. That’s what happens when you drink half a bottle Crown Royal Regal Apple, apparently. We each stumbled off to our respective trailers. Back at the keep, I was glad for the air conditioning; there’s no storm front to cool things off tonight.
Maybe it was just because he was so wiped from the beach and parade yesterday, but Jake proved to be a much better bunkmate last night than Josh was the night before. I don’t think he moved once. We were all up and dressed by 8:30 and everyone headed to Aunt Judy’s soon after. Our boys were a little subdued today; I think yesterday really wore ’em out.
Back at Puckaway, we all just relaxed. Lyssa and I put out our hammocks and kept an eye on the kiddos playing in the yard. The Voights took an ATV ride with Gunner in hot pursuit. Jenny and Red packed up their gear while Josh and Emmett palled around pretending to drive the blue ATV in front of the pole barn while Jake took a break for a bit to snuggle with me in my hammock.
The Voights left a little before noon and I gave the big trailer a once over. It was spotless and everything was shut down, as I should have suspected. It’s not Red’s first rodeo.
We had a quick little lunch in the keep, then it was back outside. I had promised the boys a “wheeler ride” so we went around all the marsh trails a few times, through Peter’s woods, and down to the boat landing. While we were out, Lyssa had cleaned up the keep and packed up most of our stuff. I burned the garbage in the coals from last night’s fire and loaded up truck with the cooler and our bags. Before stowing my tools, I found some brackets and wire and hung my Father’s Day presents, the two bird houses the boys had painted for me. They really brighten up the yard.
We closed up the pole barn and the keep, finished packing, and were on our way back to Oshkosh a little after 3:00 pm. Despite the heat, it was a really fun weekend. I love that we can come up here pretty much any time of year now and can even accommodate guests! This place is really coming back to life lately and I couldn’t be happier about that.