Rode in with Jake, Josh, and the pooch at 6:30 pm to some intermittent rain. I wanted to get some time in with my boys before Puckaweekend. I set them up at the table with the dinner we had picked up at Culvers in Ripon, then headed out to unload the truck before the next downpour showed up.

Just look at this thing!

After eating my own burger and starting a movie for the kiddos, I got to work unpacking. I stocked the pantry for Puckaweekend, then decided to hang my new sign. My wonderful wife got me an amazing anniversary gift this year: a custom-made, LED-backlit steel sign in the form of my Puckaway Motor Club owl logo. It’s huge, too: about 30″ in diameter. I love this thing.

It came with four post mounts for hanging it on the wall at the proper depth for the backlight, so I picked a spot right by the door and screwed it into the paneling. I was able to hide the wire for it behind the trim between wall panels, so it’s a really clean looking installation. I lit it up and the boys were thrilled to have a new Puckaway nightlight to watch over them.

I put away a few more things in the kitchen and moved onto the bedroom. I went through the dresser drawers and sorted them out a little better, then added all the clothes I had packed for Puckaweekend. Now I won’t have to bring anything up with me when I come back, and won’t be living out of a duffel bag either. I also stuffed three sleeping bags into the upper shelf of the bedroom closet to accommodate lightly-packed guests.

Kodi 64.

The boys fell asleep around 8:30 watching How It’s Made. I tucked them in and headed back to the bedroom to finish prepping it. I brought up my Pi64 (π8² if you wanna be pretentious), a Raspberry Pi 3 setup inside a Nintendo 64 console shell. This is a total sleeper setup—the only external sign that it’s not a stock console is the HDMI port where the AV out should be. There’s a USB port hidden in the expansion slot cover and I re-wired the cartridge port to add utility; the first cartridge I made has three USB ports in the back of it. I set this up on the bedroom TV and configured Kodi to grab media from the 4TB hard drive connected to the NUC in the living room. It streams over Wifi and works great.

I continued cleaning and organizing until about 10:30, then fell asleep watching Homicide Hunter with Hannah taking up half the bed.


Best stuffed animal ever.

Jake woke me up around 4:30 because he had to go pee, so I went out with him. We spooked three deer near the apple tree at the end of the driveway and sent them running. Jake thought that was pretty darn cool. Thankfully, he was willing to go back to bed, as I was not looking forward to starting my day that early. Both boys woke me up a second time a little after 7:00. We all snuggled for a bit, Hannah included, then got up and dressed. We left for some Aunt Judy’s breakfast at 9:00. Josh ate over half of his blueberry waffle, and Jake ate a quarter of it after wolfing down his own omelet. I can’t imagine how much more they’ll eat once puberty hits.

It’s still cold and drizzly with more rain on the way. I felt bad that we couldn’t really do our normal Puckaway activities like ATV rides and exploring around the grounds, so I figured we could at least take a ride and I’d show them some cool scenery. My grandpa and I used to ride out to Germania as a kid to check out the nature trails, so I consulted the map and headed a few miles west of town.

Jake and Josh really liked “walking over a waterfall” on the spillway.

I was surprised how much I started to remember as we got closer. The rain had stopped, so we got out at a familiar looking bridge where Grandpa took me fishing once. The water was really rushing, so I showed the boys how to play Pooh Sticks, which they really enjoyed. We drove on until we found one of the gravel entrance roads to the Germania Marsh State Wildlife Area. I drove in as far as we could, then we walked the rest of the way to get to a spillway and lookout area. Even overcast with the threat of rain, it was a perfect fall day to go on a nature hike with my buddies.

We headed back to the truck and worked our way down the other gravel roads. It really poured last night, so I had a lot of puddles to blast through for my backseat cheering section. We stopped at another trailhead and met a duck hunter coming in from the morning hunt. Jake and Josh were really interested in his gear and the three ducks he had downed. The hunter was a great sport about the whole thing, readily answering all of their questions. Before he left, he plucked the curls from the mallards he was carrying and gave one to each of the boys. They were thrilled.

We walked along and found a few spent shells and wads. I explained to my boys how shotguns worked and they wanted to collect as many shells as they could find. Josh was kind of miffed that we couldn’t find any BBs. As we walked, I pointed out milkweed all around us and Jake helped me gather some pods. He wants us to spread some seeds in the marsh so we can have more Monarch butterflies next year. Sounds like a plan to me.

We got back to the truck just a few minutes before the rain picked up again. Back at Puckaway, Jake let Hannah out as I carried in a sleeping Josh. He woke up but was still plenty groggy, so I set him up in the recliner with a blanket and his stuffed wolf and put on some cartoons for him. Jake wanted to hang out in the pole barn with me while I cleaned and organized, so we let Hannah back in to keep an eye on Josh, who was already back asleep.

I cleared the workbench and moved some things around so that all of my tools are on or near the shelves by the side door. There’s a lot more room to walk and work now. I took the batteries out of the boys’ Power Wheels ATV and tractor so they wouldn’t freeze up over winter, then hoisted their vehicles up onto a shelf in the rafters. Jake helped by gathering the rest of his trucks and toys and putting them away for me.

With the pole barn in good shape for Puckaweekend, we headed back inside. I made us some pizzas and put on another movie for the boys, who were content to just chill in the keep for a while. I ended up taking a decent nap back in the bedroom while they watched Wreck-It Ralph. After I woke up, I headed out to the living room and we all snuggled on the recliner for a bit before packing up and heading out around 5:00 pm. Even with the rain, this was a fun and memorable mini-adventure with my little bucks.