You’ve seen my first major Puckaway project from 1999, so here’s another video to help give a better idea of what the place looked like back then:
I don’t know what drove me to do this, but I took these long, panning shots of the yard and marsh in April and November of 1999. I’m glad I did. The difference in the landscape between then and now is astonishing. So much has been cleaned up! And this was shot before we moved the keep to its current spot. And would you just look at the front of the pole barn?! One of these days, I should try to match this shot for shot in a comparison video. If I ever feel like I’m not making progress at Puckaway, I can always watch this for a clear reminder that I most certainly am.
It’s been a while since I dug through the archives and posted a video log. Here’s another, hosted by 14-year-old me, edited by 17-year-old me, and cleaned up for HD by 30-minutes-ago me:
That was a fun summer. Puckaway used to play host to all sorts of vehicles and mobile homes. There was a truck camper up on jacks that my dad used to sleep in during deer camp. There was also a small travel trailer owned by Jeannie, a friend of my grandparents. It had been sitting here since the early ’80s and she had no plans to ever use it again, so it became my project. I cleaned out the cabinets, gutted the old water tanks and furnace, cleaned down every surface, and tricked it out in proper teenage fashion.
I always loved coming to Puckaway, but the summer of 1999 marks the first time I felt any real ownership of the place. Watching this now, I can see what a lost cause this trailer was. But I can also see how proud I was to make my claim here. This is the trailer that launched 1,000 projects.
I Need Never Get Old – Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats
This was a big year for Puckaway. Let’s take a look back at it!
On April 15, I finally accepted my responsibility for keeping the logs. But rather than taking pen to paper, I took fingers to keyboard and started a WordPress site. Accounts of the days’ activities are now accompanied by photos and videos, projects can be tracked from start to finish, and even the old notebooks are getting digitized and transcribed. I now have a platform to share my favorite little corner of the globe with the rest of the world.
Spring was greeted with the usual cleaning efforts and the start of some of the most ambitious projects I’ve undertaken. Farmer Joe provided a truckful of fertilized dirt to help rehabilitate the yard and we tamed the area around the brick pile. I jacked up and levelled out the keep in preparation for Sean’s 2014 suggestion, a new deck. With a little help from Jake, I was able to frame out the platform, lay the boards, and install the stairs in just two short trips. While this construction was underway, the keep got a much-needed new recliner, the pole barn got some new all-weather outdoor speakers, and I built a full/twin trundle bed for the keep’s bedroom. No more air mattresses.
Red and I got things ready for summer by installing the A/C into the wall of the keep, giving us our kitchen window back. We also tore out the stove, which Red hauled away for scrap along with his extensive collection of aluminum cans. More spring cleaning was done around the yard as I cut trees and cleared out the LP tanks and scrap from the end of the driveway. The place was looking better than ever.
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.
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.