New TV stand, new pooch bed. Life’s good.

Pulled in at 3pm with Lyssa, the boys, Hannah, and a bunch of goodies in the back. Red, Emmett, and Gunner had already been here about a half-hour. I unlocked the big trailer so they could set up camp and grabbed a dog bed for Hannah while I was in there. Gorgeous day! Sunny and in the upper 70s with a light breeze.

The boys were all happy to explore together and the dogs kept busy racing each other around the yard. Lyssa unpacked things in the keep while I made room for its newest upgrade—a proper TV stand. I cleared everything off the coffee table that had been serving as our entertainment center and cleaned out behind it. I moved the table into the bedroom; it’s now a nice place to keep our luggage.

Lyssa helped me carry the new TV stand in from the back of the truck. It’s a solid little Sauder unit I found on craigslist for $30. I wrestled it in place and set everything back up, including the freshly-loaded external hard drive. It’s nice to have all the gear off of the floor and the TV is much easier to see from the kitchen or laying down on the futon now that it’s higher up.

The boys wanted a wheeler ride, so Red and I obliged. The two Voights took the green one while the boys and I all piled on the blue one. Hannah gave up running after us relatively quickly, but Gunner ended up chasing Red out into the road. I had to herd him back into the yard. Jake and Josh wanted to explore the marsh, but things were still pretty soaked out there. I was only a few feet from Steve’s deer stand when the ATV did its best Artax impression and refused to budge from the muck.

I tried and failed to flag down Red. I then went to text Lyssa and managed to drop my phone into the inky blackness. Great. I shut it off and stowed it in the front compartment of the ATV. One problem at a time, please. With no other good options available, I decided to try to winch our way out of trouble. I told the boys to stay put, climbed up onto the front of the ATV, ditched my shoes and socks, and went muck-wading. It was less than pleasant. I had to grab the winch rope out of the rear storage hatch and manually spool it onto the winch since I never hooked it back up after plowing last winter. Once the rope was securely wound, I slowly trudged through the knee-deep slop until I got to a big enough tree to winch from. Rope attached, I hopped back on the ATV and we finally managed to extract ourselves.

Hannah, at rest.

Back in the yard, the boys were tripping over each other to tell Mom the story of our mucky adventure. At least I was described as the hero that got us free instead of the dummy that got us stuck. I rinsed myself off and got out the pressure washer to remove the significant sludge accumulation from the ATV. I also dried out and fired up my phone. Seemed to be no worse for the wear.

Marsh ordeal behind us, I got out the grill and Lyssa started cooking some fancy brats she got at Ski’s. I cleaned things up a bit in the pole barn. The dogs looked like they were having a good time together, but when I went to snap a picture, my phone went completely dead. Looks like I didn’t dodge that bullet after all.

Red nuked some mac & cheese for Emmett and we all ate on the deck. The dogs were both passed out on the lawn, spent. It was already 7:00 so Lyssa got our boys showered up and in their jammies while Red and Emmett went back to the big trailer for their own downtime. I set up the futon for Jake and Josh and got a movie started for them. That’s when I remembered that I had something up here that might prove useful. I dug through a box of random tech that I had in the bedroom closet and found my old Moto X. I swapped the SIM card from my newly-dead phone and I was back up and running again. Puckaway provides.

I left the new old phone to sync up and grab all of its updates and headed back outside to close up shop on the pole barn. Red met me outside; Emmett was already passed out. We drank his beer and BSed for a bit. He gave me Gunner’s spare clip-on LED for Hannah. This thing is great; she’s pretty quiet for a big dog and it’s much easier to keep track of her up here now that she has a glowing necklace. I called it a night around 10:30 and joined my already sleeping wife in bed.


The boys were up characteristically early but were at least content to watch some TV and let us rest. Around 9:00, when everyone had their teeth brushed and I was showered up, we all headed to Aunt Judy’s. Gunner and Hannah were left to enjoy the AC in the big trailer and keep respectively. It’s supposed to get in the mid to upper 80s today. Aunt Judy greeted the boys and we all enjoyed a big breakfast.

Now we can firewatch in style and comfort!

Bellies full, we decided to check out the flea market. I wasn’t expecting to buy anything other than some Hot Wheels for the boys, but then we came across a vendor with some decidedly cool lawn furniture. He was selling rocking chairs made out of treated lumber and springs salvaged from some old farming implements (per Farmer Joe, likely a spring-tooth harrow). They were mighty comfy and we ended up buying two. I’m planning on staining them to match the deck and swing. Hopefully, if I can find some similar springs, I can make more of them myself.

Roughly 190 gallons of convenience.

We hit up Dollar General as we had forgot to pack the boys’ swim gear and it was already pretty hot out. Thankfully, they had trunks and tank tops that would fit them. Back at camp, we unloaded our new chairs and I started filling the swimming pool for the kiddos. While they played, Lyssa relaxed, and the dogs tore around the yard, Red and I got to work on the new water supply for the keep.

Of the two IBCs that I hauled up last month, the one that used to contain some sort of non-toxic paste seemed like it’d be easier to clean out. We hauled it over to the brick garden, set it on its side, and started blasting the inner walls with the pressure washer. With the heat of the sun beating down on it, all the leftover Elmer’s glue-like gunk started peeling away fairly quickly.

A boy and his dog.

The boys kept busy playing with the water, riding their Power Wheels, and general exploration. It’s almost shocking how well they’re all playing together. It really frees us up to get some things done. With Lyssa’s help, they built a lean-to behind the pole barn. I can’t wait to get these guys into Scouts.

With the container thoroughly rinsed, it was time to give it a home. Red and I loaded up about 350 of the blue firebricks in two trips with the ATV and trailer. We used them to build a platform behind the keep for the IBC to rest upon. Once the container was in place, we started the long process of filling it. While that was going on, I drained and dismantled the “water tower.” It had served us well, but its capacity came up short. RIP.

Lyssa started preparing a feast for us: stuffed, bacon-wrapped chicken breasts (another fine purchase from Ski’s) and seasoned red potatoes. I set up Red with the pizza oven in the big trailer to give the younger, pickier eaters some alternative dining options. We had another nice dinner on the deck, then got ready to head out to Markesan for the June Dairy Days Parade.

We had an interesting time getting there as a good chunk of Hwy S heading into Markesan is closed for construction. We ended up having to come down the parade route and parking on a torn-up side street. We still managed to get to our usual spot with time to spare. The boys made off with huge candy hauls once again and loved watching the giant equipment roll by. Red and I were blessed again this year to be handed free ice-cold Busch Lights from the Piggly Wiggly float. And Lyssa came prepared with a pair of scissors for when freezer pops got doled out. This is turning into a fun little tradition.

We drove back along the “closed” road because it was still passable and seemed much quicker than following the parade traffic back up the way we came. We let the pooches back out and I started a bonfire. Hannah is still not a fan and went running for the relative safety of the deck. The boys didn’t have much energy left in them anyway, so we got them cleaned up and ready for bed. Once the kiddos dropped off, Red and I headed back out to enjoy the new chairs, drink some beer, and tend the fire. We called it quits around midnight.


Another slow start to the day got us all to Aunt Judy’s around 9 again. The boys seem a little less hyper today; a full day of sun and fun must’ve sapped them a bit. On our way back from town, we stopped at the south side of the Locks so Jake and I could show everyone the cool trail we discovered last time we were up. The water’s much lower now so there were a lot more spots to explore.

Once we got back, we all started cleaning up and packing up. Emmett did not want to leave, but the Voights pulled out of the yard around 11:00. Lyssa cleaned up the keep and did the dishes while I buttoned everything up in the pole barn and around the yard. After one last lap on the wheeler with the boys, we all headed home.