Arrived at 4:45 with Hannah to some light rain. We spooked some deer by the woodpile on our way in. Before I even got out of the truck, I drove around the yard targeting mole tunnels. Man, do I hate these things. I’d leave poison out but I don’t want my dog to get into it, and the mid-tunnel traps don’t do much good unless you’re up here regularly enough to keep checking them.

I unloaded the truck and headed into the keep. Watched some TV while I put clothes away in the bedroom and ended up dozing off for a bit. I woke up around 7:00, hungry. I ordered a pizza from Christianos then went out to the pole barn to work on a project so as not to feel completely lazy.

Twin HALs.

We’ve had Wi-Fi smartplugs up here for a while now, but they don’t help for lights unless they’re of the plug-in variety. I picked up some smart switches earlier this week, so I set out to install them in the pole barn. I positioned my halogen flood lights–which was no mean feat as the stand is falling apart and they needed to be propped up with the handcart–and pointed them at the switches, then turned off the breaker for the lights. The pole barn outlets are on a different breaker, so I still had music and plenty of light from the floods. The wiring itself was straightforward, but it took a while to modify the 4-gang toggle switch cover to accept two Decora-style switches instead.

I was just finishing things up around 8:15 when my pizza arrived. I headed into the keep and played around with the lights while I ate. The indoor lighting is still local-only, but I can now turn on the pole barn flood and side lights from anywhere. This should come in handy when checking on the place from the cameras at night.

The blue accent lights in the camper definitely bleed into the UV spectrum.

The rain finally stopped around 10:00, so I went out to close up the pole barn and let Hannah run around for a bit. I also extended the two slide-outs on my folks’ new camper and walked around in there for a bit. What an incredible upgrade from the shack. I made my way back to the keep and fell asleep watching some episodes of How It’s Made somewhere around midnight.


Slow, lazy morning in the keep. Ate some leftover pizza, washed up, and was outside by 9:00. Finally got some sunshine! I took a minute to admire the new camper since this was the first time I’d had a chance to see it up here in the daylight. Next, I hopped in the truck and backed up to the front door of the shack. I’ve been storing some totes in there, and getting them out will mark the first official efforts of Shack Removal.

I got my things loaded up in the truck: three totes of DVDs and two totes of bedding/linens. I’ll take all these home tomorrow where I’ll wash all the bedding that’s worth saving and eventually try to sell or donate all the DVDs. For now, I unloaded everything in the pole barn on top of the pop-up camper.

I also pulled some foam mattress toppers out of the shack that were mouse-chewed and stained. I threw them into the pit and lit them my propane torch. I had some good-size flames right away and kept the fire going with the branches and twigs that were already in the pit.

Around noon, I got the pump going and started filling the keep’s water tank. I headed inside for a while and reheated some pizza for lunch. I just finished eating when my folks pulled in with the boys. Jake and Josh were super-excited about the camper (even though my mom spoiled the surprise the night before) and wanted to explore every inch of it. Once they had gotten the grand tour, they switched to showing off on their swing and playing in their fort.

Mom got some things set up in the camper and Dad headed into town to pick up lunch for all of them. The boys were excited to eat in the new camper and waved at me through the window as I headed out to the marsh on the green ATV with my chainsaw-on-a-stick.

With more rain in the forecast, I wanted to carve up the fallen tree in the marsh clearing while I could still get out there without a boat. This little pole saw always surprises me with its capability. I managed to cut up everything but the main trunk in a little over 20 minutes.

As I was heading back in from the marsh, the boys were putting on their gloves and asking what they could do to help. Since my next project was going to be a little too dangerous to have them around, I asked my Dad if he wanted to grab the other ATV and a trailer to get them to gather up all the branches I just cut up. Jake and Josh were thrilled to help Papa with this and they rode out to the marsh together while I turned off the pump and got things ready in the pole barn.

Helping Grandpa at Puckaway—the tradition continues.

I soon passed them with a bucket full of tools and a ladder in the back of the blue ATV. I parked by the battlement and started pulling all of the metal roofing panels out from under it. I had stacked them out here last year but never got around to attaching them to the roof frame. One at a time, I hauled them up into the battlement, then went up with my ladder and tools to begin fastening them down.

This was not a fun task. The steel panels are heavy and hard to drill through. The more of them you put up, the less room you have to work. I ended up attaching the last ones more to the other panels than to the frame of the battlement itself. I hope they don’t blow away. If I have to revisit this, I’ll need a longer, sturdier ladder.

The Battlement: Now 85% drier.

While I was working on the roof, my dad and the boys kept busy getting everything picked up and hauled over to the pit. It took three trailer loads, and all that remains of that huge tree out in the marsh is the bare trunk. I put all my tools away and gave my mom a hand hauling boxes and totes out of the shack and into the back of Dad’s truck. She made quite the dent in the back bedroom.

My folks were on their way back to Oshkosh a little before 6:00. I washed up and took the boys into town for a Dollar General and Pig run. They wanted pizza for dinner but I was getting pretty sick of eating it, so I got them a Lottza Mottza and got myself some microwave pot-pies. I also grabbed a bottle of Skrewball peanut butter whiskey, because it was just too intriguing to pass up.

Better than it has any right to be.

We got back to Puckaway at 7:15. I started the pizza oven and took a cautious sip of my weird whiskey. It’s amazing! I was worried it was just a gimmick and would either be terrible or at best cloyingly sweet, but it’s got a solid whiskey burn with a smooth peanut butter finish. I filled one of the new Puckaway-branded tumblers with ice and poured some Skrewball. It’s the classiest thing you can drink while enjoying a pot-pie.

We all stayed inside for the night as the rain had started up again. It also got cold pretty quick; I closed up all the windows and ran the small electric heater in the kitchen for the boys. We all snuggled up on the futon and watched both of the early-’90s Addams Family movies. Josh was asleep before the end of the first movie and Jake only made it halfway through Addams Family Values. I let Hannah out one last time and retired to the bedroom a little after 10:30 where I fell asleep watching Voyager.


We got plenty of overnight rain and it was still drizzling when the boys woke me up around 7:00. They kept themselves busy re-watching Addams Family Values and playing Switch while I worked on adding some new media to Kodi and cleaning up the weather station database.

We left for Aunt Judy’s at 10:15 where Josh had another “Daddy breakfast” of eggs over-easy, cheesy hashbrowns, and bacon. Jacob had his usual ham and cheese omelet, but also shared half of Josh’s hashbrowns. I tried something new and got the ham and egg skillet. We got back to Puckaway at 11:30 where there wasn’t much for the boys to do since it was still raining. They were more than happy to go back to their Switches, though.

I cleaned up in the pole barn, putting away all my tools and making some room on the workbench. Mom called and asked me to get her some water in the shack in case she came up during the week. She also asked me to box up a few more things for her. I grabbed the three five-gallon pails from the shack kitchen and bathroom, got the pump going, and started filling them as I got her things boxed up.

By 2:30, I had the shack ready for Mom and all closed up. I backed the truck into the pole barn and loaded it with the totes I hauled out of the shack yesterday, then went back to the keep to get the rest of our stuff. I showed the boys a nest that some robins had built on the shack’s AC unit this spring, complete with an unhatched egg. They got a big kick out of seeing how it was constructed with all the softest grass saved for the middle.

We were on our way back to Oshkosh by 3:15. Kind of a bummer trip with all the rain, but the boys sure had fun, my folks made some headway in clearing out the shack, the pole barn got smarter, and the battlement was finally completed. All in all, a successful weekend.