It’s been quite a week. The wild swings in temperature have brought on a lot of snowmelt over still-frozen ground. Back in Oshkosh, this resulted in a lot of water pooling near the back of the house. The catch basin and 40 feet of buried 4″ PVC drain pipe that I put in to combat just this situation were rendered useless as they were plugged solid with ice. Water started leaking into the basement because the utility pump I bought out of desperation just couldn’t keep up with the melt rate. To top things off, something was wrong with the water heater from the keep. It would shut itself off after only lighting the burners for a few seconds, which prevented me from using it to flush my drain line with hot water. I felt defeated as a homeowner because my drain solution had failed, discouraged at the prospect of no more hot water at Puckaway, and sick thinking about the freezing rain in the forecast and how it would affect my basement.
My wonderful wife helped me put these (still mostly managed) problems in perspective and suggested that what I needed was some time to recharge and reflect. She would take the boys down by her folks for the weekend and said I should head to Puckaway with the pooch. An overnight stay in February would be an unprecedented event, but probably just what the doctor ordered. Just the idea of a Puckaway trip got me in a better headspace, and by Thursday I had come up with a solution for my frozen pipe problem.
Rolled in with Hannah around 3:30 to some light snowfall. Time to collect the blue ATV and plow for the driveway back home. Hannah was sure happy to be here and got right to work making high-speed laps of the yard. This came with some pretty spectacular wipeouts, though. Thanks to the quick freeze-thaw-freeze cycle over the last few days, the yard is full of glare ice patches hidden beneath the fresh snow. Hannah, for the most part, was unfazed by this and just wanted to keep running.
I went to fire up the blue ATV and the dials went completely dead. What the hell. I’ve had this on the trickle charger, just like the green ATV and the mowers, and none of them are any worse for wear. Then again, I think this battery is at least six or seven years old and probably due for replacement. It’s a shame these require their electronics to function. Even with a pull rope, there’s no way of getting this to run without a battery.
The five of us pulled down the snowy driveway around 11:45—Lyssa, Jake, Josh, me, and our new dog, Hannah. This is Hannah’s first trip anywhere with us. We just got her three weeks ago from a local shelter and she’s acclimating well. Turns out she’s a very good rider; she barely even moved the whole trip up.
Hannah’s first road trip.
It’s been fun to watch Hannah learn how to be a dog. She’s four years old and I don’t think she’s ever been off a short leash or out of a small kennel run. She absolutely loves it up here, running fast enough to squeeze tears out of her eyes. The boys get a kick out of watching her.
I was still getting the boys’ sleds out of the back of the truck when Lyssa called me over to the front door of the big house trailer but said I needed to get ahold of Hannah first. There, half-underneath the trailer, was a dead six-point buck. I don’t know if it got hit by a car or someone was taking potshots out of season, or what. It didn’t have any obvious wounds.
If you eat enough of Aunt Judy’s waffles…
Lyssa, the boys, and I rolled into Aunt Judy’s a little after 11:00 for a late breakfast. Jake had his usual waffle and Josh devoured a cheese omelet. It was a pretty standard meal for the most part, but Jake spotted something on his way out: himself. There’s a little notice on the wall urging people to leave TripAdvisor reviews, and they’ve got Jake’s picture! I took the photo back in June and uploaded it to Google Maps where it’s had over 5,000 views. Aunt Judy’s “waffle baby” is a little celebrity now!
… you go up on the wall!
Quick supply run today. Took almost 90 minutes to get here from Oshkosh thanks to last night’s snowfall and everyone forgetting how to drive in winter conditions. Around 11:00, I made my way down the driveway through 6 inches of snow and backed up to the pole barn. I hooked up the ATV trailer and loaded it up with both ATVs and the plow. I’m going to have them both serviced at the dealer this winter, but I need the plow up and running today.
A Puckaway video log entry is an idea I’ve toyed around with since I started posting entries last spring, but I was beat to the punch by almost 25 years. Here’s Richie, in late November of 1991, admiring the fresh-fallen snow:
Grandpa bought a VHS camcorder some time in 1988. Starting that Christmas, it was ever-present at family gatherings, on his trips to Florida and Canada, and it even made it to Puckaway a few times over the years. I have his entire collection of tapes, nearly 25 hours of footage in total, digitally preserved. I’ve left things unedited, only cutting static between recordings. I want to start cleaning this collection up further, and figured a Puckaway log entry would be a fitting place to start.
Taking photos of and transcribing the log pages has been a fulfilling way to connect with the past of this place, but it can’t top being able to hear my grandpa narrating a trip. There’s nothing too profound or significant being discussed, but it doesn’t matter. Welcome to puckaway.net, Beeba. Thanks for posting.
Pulled in the driveway with Lyssa and the boys around 1:45 pm after lunch at Aunt Judy’s. Once again, the boys behaved really well.
Clear skies and no wind with temperatures in the upper 30s. Great day for a visit! We’ve all been cooped up in the house too long and could use the fresh air. Jake found all of his trucks and construction equipment in the pole barn and the boys got to work making roads in the snow.
I shovelled out the deck and checked in on the keep. Absolutely zero sign of critter activity. You’d think if they were going to find their way in out of the cold, it would have happened by now, so this is excellent news. Everything looked and smelled clean. The keep has really transformed over the last year into quite the nice place to stay.
Put the truck in 4-wheel-drive and broke through the fresh snow in the driveway around 2:00 pm. We got our first real snowfall of the year overnight, and it came as a major snowstorm. Oshkosh got about 8 to 12 inches, with drifts over 2 feet. Things seem to have been calmer here in Green Lake County, with only 4 to 6 inches on the ground and not much drifting at all. Beautiful day, no wind and temperatures hovering around the mid-20s. Snow keeps everything peaceful and clean up here.
The pit will not be deterred by mere snow.
Unloaded the summer tires and wheels for Lyssa’s car from the truck bed and stacked them in the pole barn for the winter. Danny pulled in as I was finishing and we talked for almost an hour. I finally got a chance to ask if he could ever hear the music from the pole barn, or just us in general when we’re up here, and if it was a bother. “Oh sure, I can hear you guys if I’m working out back. But if you were bothering me, I’d let you know it!” Apparently, we pass the Good Neighbor test.
After Danny left, I turned my attention to the remaining contents of the truck bed: cardboard, scrap wood, and a broken tote to get burned. I could still make out the depression of the pit in the fresh snow, so I stacked everything over it and lit the pile. It didn’t take long for the surrounding snow to melt (then boil) away. The pit is an all-season utility.
We’re going to need a bigger grill.
Arrived around 5:30 and unloaded quickly—temperatures are hovering around freezing. Brought up bedding for the futon and the infrared heater. I plan to stay in the keep this weekend but will be leaving the bedroom and bathroom doors closed to help it stay warm. Fired up the heater immediately and lit some candles to give it a boost. I set up the sheets and comforter on the futon and put away the only other things I brought up: my clothes and overnight bag. This weekend, I’m just here to relax.
Headed over to the big trailer where Dad, Steve, and his son Sam had already settled in. Dad was frying up mushrooms to go with the massive steaks that Steve brought up from Leroy Meats. Steve and I headed out to the pole barn to get the grill and struggled to get it to light properly. I cleaned it out thoroughly with the air compressor, but we still couldn’t coax much more than an anemic flame from it. Dad resigned to trying to cook from what we had, but managed to extinguish the burners just by slamming the lid. It seemed like all hope might be lost, but upon relighting, the grill roared to life. The propane regulator must be over-sensitive or something. At least we got it going.