A boy and his (tolerant) dog.

Jake, Hannah, and I came up in the truck around 6:15 pm. Jake’s been asking for an overnight up here—just him and me—for a while now, so he’s pretty excited. We unloaded the truck, unhooked the blue trailer, and opened up the keep while Hannah ran her laps around the grounds. I started the heater right away as it’s only 50° right now and the temp continues to drop.

We called Hannah into the keep and Jake and I headed into town to fill up the gas cans and get some dinner at A&W. We ate once we got back and spent the rest of the night inside relaxing and watching How It’s Made. Jake fell asleep on the couch around 9:30 and I carried him back to the bedroom. I stayed up messing with some automation scripts on the PuckaPi. I let Hannah out one more time for the night, then joined my snoring kiddo around 11:00.


Jake miraculously let me sleep until almost 7:00. We let the pooch out and Jake chilled on the couch while I showered up. We headed to town for an Aunt Judy’s breakfast around 9:00, Jake doing his best to “watch out for nature” the whole way. Unfortunately, there weren’t any seats at the bar, but Jake was happy to get his morning waffle nonetheless. Bellies full, we headed to Dollar General where I grabbed some sparkling water and Jake got some Hot Wheels.

Once we got back and let Hannah out of the keep, I started clearing the leaves out of the back garden by the bird feeders and outhouse. I figured Jake would keep busy with his trucks or something, but he just wanted to hang around me. He looked bored and when I asked him about it, he said that he felt bad because he wasn’t helping. Gotta love that work ethic! I grabbed a rake for him out of the pole barn and his face lit up. He just wanted to “take care of Puckaway, like my Daddy.”

We corralled all the leaves to an area of the clearing where I had seen standing water a few times this year. I should be able to mulch them in place once it dries out to help fill in back there. I also used the leaf blower to “unearth” the garden border from years of washed out sandy soil and creeping roots. The whole spot looks a lot better; the perennials planted in throughout should have a much better chance of thriving again.

As long as the leaf blower was out, I cleared the slab as best I could.

We took a break for a light lunch, then filled the bird feeders and put out the last of the shell corn for the deer. As long as I had the ladder out, I re-aimed the bird feeder camera that I installed last trip to capture a little more of the yard. I already like this new camera so much that earlier this week I ordered another one. Camera Two will be trained on the pole barn and should make for some interesting time lapses as I clear trees and clear out the foundation of the old wood shed this year.

I drilled through the floor inside of the “server” closet and ran an Ethernet cable down to the bedroom end of the keep and around the corner. After mounting the camera and installing the watertight connector, I tucked this wire run into the corner piece of the siding. I ran a second cable to the same corner and mounted the weatherproof box for the wireless access point. It’s got a much clearer (and closer) shot at the pole barn from here. I dropped a third wire through the floor hole that’ll be used later for the outdoor temperature and humidity sensor. Jake was really interested in this project and was a great helper when it came to getting me tools and collecting the scrap from wire-making.

A new view and some better signal.

I also drilled a hole through the back of the closet by the top shelf, just large enough to accommodate a cut-off section of 1/2″ PEX. I used this as a clean, smooth conduit to run a pair of external antenna wires for the 4G modem. I built a quick-and-dirty mount for a pair of cheap Yagi antennas out of some leftover treated 2×6″s from the deck project. The assembly is heavy enough that it’ll stay in place on the roof, but also easy to re-position as needed. Once everything was mounted and hooked up, I brought up the modem management page on my phone and kept an eye on the signal strength as I aimed the antenna. I got about a 12 dBi improvement over the internal antenna. It isn’t a huge increase, but it’s enough for me to feel like the project was worth the effort.

Last fall, I collected anything I thought might freeze and brought it back to Oshkosh. Unfortunately, that included all of the tubes of silicone I had up here and I haven’t brought them back up yet. I’ll have to wait until next trip to seal up the fun new holes I put in the keep.

Jake was getting hungry and since it was already 6:00, we were getting to the point where we’d either have to start packing up or commit to staying another night. It was an easy choice for Jake, but we called Lyssa just to be sure she didn’t mind. He got Mom’s thumbs-up, so we went to Pizza Factory to celebrate. We got to eat at the bar, which Jake was pretty pumped about.

After dinner, I took a little detour to the Princeton Locks and showed Jake where my grandpa used to take me fishing when I was little. The water was still extremely high from all the rain we’ve been getting, so there were a lot of places we couldn’t walk to, but he got a kick out of it and asked me a bunch of questions about Richie. As we left, I purposely drove through an area that had about a foot of standing water, much to the delight of my little buddy.

Back at Puckaway, Jake put on a hat and a warm jacket and we took a sunset ride on the green ATV. Our first stop was the boat landing, which was as flooded as the locks were. On the way back, we spooked three deer crossing the road right before Danny’s property. This would have been the highlight of the ride for Jake, except that we later ended up chasing a pair of deer down the path through Peter’s woods. We also saw some sandhill cranes, Canada geese, and turkeys at various points along the ride. When we got back, Jake just had to call his mom and tell her how we saw “SO MUCH NATURE” on our ride.

We parked the ATV and let Hannah out for a while. Jake was hoping for a bonfire, but I didn’t have much brush accumulated for burning and it was getting pretty late anyway. We headed in for the night and watched more How It’s Made together in the recliner. Jake started dozing off before we finished the first episode, so I got him in his PJs and tucked him in back in the bedroom. Hannah and I watched some TV until around 10:30 when I called it a night.


That’s an odd-looking waffle…

I’m glad I went to bed relatively early last night as Jake got me up a little before 6:00. After washing up and getting dressed, we finished up the camera and WiFi expansion project by tucking the wiring up behind the siding for the length of the run. It’s not the way I’d do it at home or on a job site, but it works for up here.

Jake and I headed to Aunt Judy’s around 9:00. With no flea market going on today, we had no trouble finding seats at the bar. Continuing his “just like Daddy” kick, Jake decided to order an omelet instead of his usual waffle.

On our way back, we took Cty T out of town. It was a beautiful morning for a ride, sun shining bright and temps in the upper 60s. I always wondered where it would take you if you kept going south after T takes a turn to the east, so we went on a meander. Turns out, you just circle the big bend of the Fox River and come back out on T again at Oxbow Rd. While we were driving around, we noticed a big brown DNR sign and little gravel parking lot so we pulled in to check it out. Turns out, we were on the south side of the Princeton Locks. There was a narrow, well-worn walking path down to the river and a small area where you could stand and fish. I’ve been coming here my whole life and never knew about this spot. Jake thought it was awesome that we found a new place to explore and had fun climbing some big fallen trees. This could be a cool spot to come back and fish later this summer. I bet it doesn’t get as busy as the north side.

We made our way back and let Hannah out. She’s still got a lot of pent up energy and Jake chased her around the yard for a bit while I started packing things up. Dad wants to take the older Craftsman mower back to Mayville so he doesn’t have to keep shuttling his home mower back and forth, so I dug it out of the corner of the pole barn, aired up the tires, and fired it up. It was hooked to a trickle charger all winter and there was Stabil in the gas tank, so it started without protest. I did a little “test mulching” around the south yard and was able to clear out the scrub growth beneath the two pines I trimmed last fall during Puckaweekend. Satisfied that it was running properly, I drove it around to the burnpit. I hooked the blue trailer to my truck and dropped the tilt axle, then carefully guided the mower up the trailer. Sure beats using makeshift ramps or trying to lift the thing.

I secured the trailer load and closed up the pole barn. Jake and I did one last spot check of the keep to make sure we had everything and we were on the road around 12:30. What a fun little weekend with my buddy.