Came up a little after 6pm with Jake. This will be his first overnight trip to Puckaway, and he’s pretty excited. He slept most of the way up, so I got him situated in my trailer with the Happy Meal I picked up in Ripon on the way. Didn’t take him long to finish, and he was ready to go. We got his work gloves on and gathered up all of his trucks and tractors to play in the yard while I unloaded the truck. Clear skies and upper 60s. Mosquitoes are out, but not terrible. Opened up the trailer windows and turned on the fans to circulate some fresh air and found room in the fridge for the dozens of Gatorade and water bottles I brought up.
Jake wanted a four wheeler ride, so we took the blue ATV through the short marsh trails and climbed dad’s deer stand. We watched some jets doing maneuvers overhead for a while, which he got a big kick out of. It was approaching 8:00 and I wanted to make a quick run to town before it got too late so we made our way down and parked the ATV. Jake handles ladder climbing really well. On our way in to town, I stopped to get a better look at something huge on the side of the road. Big ol’ snapping turtle. Once I explained that it wouldn’t bite him just for looking at it, Jake came out of the truck to check it out, too. He thought it looked grumpy and dirty and was glad it didn’t want to bite us. Satisfied with our nature encounter, we drove on to Piggly Wiggly and the Dollar General to get some snacks and supplies. I knew we weren’t going to get out of the last store without a toy of some kind, so Jake spent the ride home checking out his new Hot Wheels.
Eye in the Sky – The Alan Parsons Project
Thanks to satellite/aerial imagery, it’s easier than ever to see how things are progressing at Puckaway. I’ve collected a few different pictures and found an image slider plugin to use for them. It’s pretty cool.
Bing Maps vs Google Maps
The two heavy hitters in free online aerial photography really show how much the land changes throughout the course of the year. I couldn’t find exact dates, but I think the Bing image is from the summer of 2013 or 2014 and the Google one is from fall of 2014. The marsh ATV trail is well-established now, as both pictures show, and with the Google image you can see the yard pretty clearly.
Came up for a lawn maintenance trip around 4:30. Upper 80s and sunny, but at least it isn’t humid. Grass is knee high in areas I cut earlier this year, and waist high everywhere else. I brought the mulching blades for the new mower; this will be a good test for them. I hopped on the green ATV and did a quick perimeter check for any storm damage from the weekend. Nothing new by us, but the Illinois neighbors have a sizeable tree branch down in their front yard. Not that anyone’s been there to notice. I started down the smaller marsh trail loop, once again overgrown, and noticed what looked like a giant ant hill. I slowed down as I approached it to get a better look and was only a few feet from it when it got up and flew away. Turkey. Big one. Scared the hell out of me. Didn’t look like it had a nest or anything there; I think it was just trying to stay cool. It eyeballed me from twenty feet away for a while before strutting off into the woods. I don’t ever remember seeing as many turkeys around up here as I have in the last year.
Rolled in around 11:00 am with a new riding mower on the back of the truck. It’s an early-2000s Sabre (budget John Deere) model with a 48″ deck. Dad bought it from Linda and Dennis now that they’ve sold their house in Campbellsport. I had taken it home, washed it up, and given it a tune-up. I was also going to get new mulching blades for it but ended up ordering the wrong fitment; I’ll have to bring them up another time. The mower itself is in great shape but the bagging accessories look like they’ve been through hell and back. The bag unit itself is completely unsalvageable and the chute and blower assembly will require a lot of creative patching to get up and running again. But at least it cuts. I used the ATV ramps to unload the mower and decided to try it out by trimming the areas of the yard I had mowed/mulched last month. Even with dull, worn blades, it made quick work of cutting. I even tried a few areas with a lot of leaves and it never bogged down once. I can only imagine how well it’ll do when it’s got proper, sharp, mulching blades.
I was just finishing up cutting around 12:45 when Red and Gunner pulled in, trailer in tow. Red’s mission this weekend is to gather up the aluminum cans he stored here several years back and cash them in. It didn’t take Gunner long to go into “Puckaway mode” and start sprinting huge laps around the yard. He’ll sleep well.
Rolled in around 9:15 pm with a loaded pickup bed once again. Menards was having one of their 11% rebate weeks on top of a sale on building materials, so I picked up all the lumber and hardware we’ll need to put up the deck railing. Since I’ll be hauling up a lawn tractor when I come back Friday and I didn’t want to unload and reload everything at home, I decided to make a quick run up. Not sure when I’ll actually start work on the railing, but all the materials are here now.
I also brought jugs of Oshkosh tap water, most of my tools, the chainsaw, and some of the bagger parts for the new mower. I should have a much easier haul on Friday now. Left shortly after 10:00 after putting everything away. Short but sweet.
The PMC Clubhouse had an accessibility problem. The back door opened three feet above the ground and the front entrance had a precariously balanced set of steel stairs and some very uneven terrain right outside. Tracking in dirt and sand has always been a problem, and we never really hung out outside much since there wasn’t much to the yard. It was time for a deck.
Using a tape measure and scratching into the ground with my shoe, I felt out various possible sizes. I settled on 12′ square since it provided ample space while keeping my shopping list and design needs simple.
Trimble SketchUp (previously Google SketchUp) is instrumental in planning any kind of building project. I scoured the internet for deck building tips and methods and got to work drawing the deck frame. SketchUp gives you the liberty to work out your mistakes before you ever cut or even buy a single board. I was able to tweak my design so I could use 2x8s for most of the joists and for the beams, only using 2x10s for the outside border. This saved a decent amount of money. I designed some 45-degree 2×4 cross-braces that required me to tweak the location of the corner posts. It all worked out perfectly and the notching and angle cut on the beams add a nice look to the final product. I also wanted a wider set of stairs come out the side rather than the front. This gives us more room to get by with the trucks and ATVs and helps define the little “yard” area in front of the trailer. The metal stairs get reused for the back door.
The pickled egg is an acquired taste, but it’s something many of us at the PMC enjoy. That being said, a pickled egg you’d find at a bar doesn’t have much to give it any unique taste. Most of them are jarred with little more than vinegar and some onion. I decided to try my hand at home-pickling to see if I could add some flavor to these smelly snacks.
Proper pickling takes two to three weeks, so I wanted to try multiple recipes at once. This way, if a batch isn’t that great, it’s not a complete waste of time. In this first effort, I chose three different recipes. Since most recipes call for making around two dozen eggs in a gallon jar, I bought two-quart jars so I could just cut the ingredients in half and not have to factor weird fractions into an already unfamiliar situation.
Arrived around 6:30 pm with a strapped down load in the truck bed. Two mattresses, some 2″x6″s and two sheets of 5/8″ OSB to build the trundle bed, 10′ 1″x12″ shelf boards, extra planks for the deck stairs, and a brand new door for my trailer. Unloaded everything into the pole barn and got my first good look at the deck in the daylight. The current goal is to finish the platform and stairs; the railing will get added on later this summer.
I hadn’t planned on resuming work on the deck until Saturday. The project for the night was to build a trundle bed and provide a much-needed upgrade to the sleeping accommodations in the trailer. I had found a simple plan for building a frame online and tweaked it to allow for a full mattress on top and a pullout twin mattress. I set up shop in the pole barn and got to work building the full mattress frame. I forgot to grab the caster wheels for the small, simple twin pullout, so that’ll have to wait. The OSB can be lifted out of the 2×6 frame leaving a light, sturdy assembly that’s pretty easy to move around.
Leader of The Band – Dan Fogelberg
I was watching some of my grandpa’s old camcorder footage the other day (which I will eventually upload). He was taking panning shots of the big trailer and talking about his plans to build additions onto it. It hurts a little to listen to that now. Richie always had plans like that. This is why Puckaway has an abundance of bricks, lumber, plywood, corrugated metal sheets, piping, small engines, lawnmowers, appliances, and everything else that makes up the clutter we’re now focused on clearing out. My grandpa grew up during the Great Depression and spent the rest of his life never taking anything for granted. Throughout his career with the City of Milwaukee Sanitation Department, he was in a prime position to snatch up all sorts of leftover building materials that otherwise would have been scrapped. Later, when his son-in-law, Andy, owned and operated Custom Craft Vehicles, Richie had another opportunity to grab cast aside treasures. He was always on the lookout for deals and never passed up an opportunity to take on a new project.
Plenty good came from his drive over the years. Grandpa built all sorts of things from the nice hardwood pieces he got from CCV. Some of the bricks he salvaged found a place in landscaping at Puckaway, his home, my aunt’s house, and my parents’ house. Worn-out railroad ties became garden boundaries. Richie had a knack for repairing small engines and I don’t think he ever had to buy a new (or even running) lawnmower, riding or push, in his life. He had plans for everything he salvaged, he had the know-how to see those plans through, and most of what he salvaged in his lifetime ended up at Puckaway.
Jake and I came up around 11:30. Sunny but cool, mid 50s. We had stopped in town for some housekeeping and storage supplies and Princeton was packed with people. Didn’t realize it at the time, but it was the opening weekend for the Princeton Flea Market. I pulled Jake’s PowerWheels ATV out of the back of the truck and he set off to explore the yard.
I set up the new outdoor speakers for the pole barn. For now, they’ll just sit out, but I want to make some sort of mini-roof for them and mount them on the side of the building. They’re water-resistant but probably don’t need direct exposure to the elements. Got some tunes going and moved the truck over to my trailer where the rest of the day’s activities would take place.