Friday, July 26, 2019

Fish On!

Thousands of bodies lay upon the battlefield, bloody from the weeklong massacre. It was not pretty but it was necessary.

This is the scene within our truck camper after one week alone in the Canadian bush. The battle was mainly against me and the mosquitoes. They were no match for our electronic tennis racket as I swung it through the camper getting a little joy each time I heard the “pop” and watched their little bodies flutter to the floor (or table, or counter and wherever they happened to land). I was winning the war against these nasty little buggers. I am however, losing the war against the laundry and dishes that, along with my fried little nemesis are littering every nook and cranny of the camper. There will be no photographic evidence of this battlefield as if I have any hope of Barb returning to me I need her to think this is all a fictional scene……..

After dropping Barb, Forrest and Lily off at the Rapid City airport I started my 8 hour trek to "The Farm" in Douglas North Dakota. I was not sure if I was going to drive it all the way through or stop somewhere along the way. A couple hours into my trip I received a text from Barb with just two words “Flight delayed”. Bummer, I sure hope it is not delayed too long as I am hours away headed the wrong direction and they don’t have any way to get back home should the flight get canceled.

A couple hours later I received another text from Barb “Flight canceled, trying to get another flight into Denver tonight”. Long story short they did get into Denver that night, got a room at 1:00am for $313 and were back at the airport again at noon the next day trying to get on a 7pm flight into Medford Oregon. They were able to get tickets for that flight but guess what? It was delayed as well. They eventually made it to Medford over a day late and very, very exhausted.

I on the other hand motored through 8+ hours and got to the farm at about 10:30pm where I just climbed in back and went to sleep. I spent the next day hanging with the Finken/Sobieck gang. There have been lots of changes since we were last up here in the fall of ’18. The most significant being the birth of Calvin, the third boy of the Chris and Holly clan. Looks like they are setting up the farm for the next generation! In addition they acquired several hundred new acres of property, a new sprayer, a new farm truck and several new and HUGE grain bins. Farmer Bob sent me this picture shortly after one of them was installed. These bins are 48’ in diameter and will hold 50,000 bushels!  
Most of all it was just great seeing everyone, I just wished Barb was there with me…… Early the next morning I was gone before anyone was up and hit the road. According to Google Maps, the drive to Pasha Lake Ontario was 16 hours; across North Dakota, into Minnesota, crossing into Ontario and then east to Thunder Bay and eventually Pasha. Again, I did not know how far I was going to drive, depended on how tired I got......820 miles and 18 hours later I pulled into Pasha at 2:00am exhausted but I was there!

That day I did not do a whole lot, mainly just got set up and waited for my friend Bob to show up with his group. For 5 years in a row he was bring a group of 6 guests up for a company retreat. Some of them are experienced fisherman while for others it may be their first time. So I try and help out where I can. The next day we went to Onaman Lake. For those of you have not read about Onaman in the past it is known for it’s walleyes, both in numbers and size. It is also a little over a mile hike back to the lake with poles, bait, gas and gear so you get a workout to boot!
Joe, Mark and I headed out to the hotspot!

Bob and Kurt in search of the mighty walleye!
I of course have my GPS hummingbird fish finder along which has many of the hotspots marked on it from years past and it was not long before someone was shouting "Fish on!"
Mark and I with a couple of nice Onaman 'eyes

Joe fell in love over and over again!

Bob with one of many 22"'ers
One thing I like to do when fishing a spot is drop a marker buoy when we catch our first fish. Since walleye are school fish this provides us with a good reference as to where the school was at that given time. We will then fish around that buoy until the fish move on. Invariably I have to tell my boat companions the story of when my sister was fishing up here with her husband. I won’t mention her name to protect her identity but it starts with a J and ends with a Y. Anyway, we were fishing a particularly rugged area and I had dropped a buoy right where the fish were. If you right next to the buoy you were catching fish, 10 yards off and you weren’t. They would fish next to the buoy and catch a fish or two then drift off and stop catching them. I would then tell them “You need to fish next to the buoy”. They would move back over and eventually drift off again and I would repeat “You need to fish next to the buoy!” After about 5 or 6 times of this my sister turns to me and says “Why do the fish like the buoy so much?” I remember it like it was yesterday, I laughed so hard I was crying and once she realized what she said she was as well.
Pink attracts some of the larger female fish!

After telling that story to the guys in the boat they would make comments every time we dropped a buoy at a new spot; “Oh good, they will now come and hang out by the buoy” “Do you find they like one color buoy over another?”. Or my favorite “Maybe we should drop a buoy so we can start catching fish”. My sister does not know it (until now) but years later she is still providing laughs to countless guys I get to fish with. I am sure that as she reads this she will have a smile on her face and want to punch me at the same time. But hey, I am hundreds of miles away and what is she going to do?!?!?

For lunch we stopped by one of the islands and had us a nice walleye snack!
Greg filleting some fish for shore lunch

Bob cooking up some fish
Does not get any fresher than that!

Steve and Mark listening to Joe pass along words of wisdom

We actually fished Onaman several times this week with equal success. Each boat landed between 100 and 200 walleyes a day averaging between 20 and 22 inches. The biggest walleye for the week was just over 30”’s and the biggest northern almost 38"'s
Joe with a nice 24

Looks like I got caught napping again!
With their week done, Bob and his crew have left with lots of fish, some great memories and some stories to tell. Me? I am thinking about doing the dishing and a little laundry while waiting for Barb to return from California. In the meantime I have all 4 different colors of my marker buoys ready for my next trip so I can really see, which color does attract the most fish!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Forrest and Lily Come to Visit!

This week we had another example on how much life can change in a blink of the eye. Less than 2 weeks ago Barb’s stepmother went into the hospital with pneumonia and was diagnosed with stage 4 lung and pancreatic cancer. They gave her 3 months to live so Barb immediately started to make plans to go out to California after our son Forrest left. Two days later that diagnosis was changed to 3 weeks. Paula, 74, was very active, still working fulltime at an insurance agency was a loving wife to Barb’s dad for many years and took care of him during his battle with cancer before he passed away in 2012. Life can change in an instant…….

Forrest and our granddaughter Lily arrived on Wednesday the 10th for a weeklong visit. Well, to be honest it is a visit/work vacation as Forrest is going to wire all the electrical in our house!
Forrest and Lily arriving at the airport!
That same day we received another phone call saying that Paula had 24 hours. Within a matter of days the diagnosis went from 3 months to 3 weeks to 24 hours. She passed away during the early morning of July 12th in her sleep.

Our hearts go out to Paula’s family but are happy with the thought that she is now at peace with Barb’s dad.
Paula with Barb's dad
Forrest and I have been busy getting the house wired up. As a licensed electrician he has wired many a house so his knowledge and experience was invaluable. Day one found us walking through each of the rooms with Barb, detailing locations of lights, outlets and switches. Then we started installing said outlets, switches and lights.
Lots of boxes in the kitchen alone!
While we were doing that we received a text from Rudee and Phil asking if we wanted to meet them at the Pringle bar for dinner. Of course we did! So along with Jim and Brenda we all went there for a nice dinner.
The next day, while Barb watched Lily, we started wiring…… for the next three days we wired, wired and wired…..1500 feet of 12/2, 1000 feet of 14/2, 250 feet of 14/3, 100 feet of 6/3, 27 can lights, 73 outlets and 4 fans later we were done! Whew!
Forrest working in the bathroom

Lily even got in on the action!

That is a mess of wires!
All cleaned up and ready for inspection!
Forrest did great work hooking everything up and tying it together, now we just need to get it inspected and flip the switches. This is another big step in our build and are glad to have it done.
Lily meanwhile was decorating the floor in our bedroom. We will now forever have part of Lily under our flooring when the house is done.

This is a picture of Dakota
Speaking of big steps we got the all the exterior doors installed plus….
Front door is also in!
The garage doors installed! We are all buttoned up and ready to head north!
With the house work all done it was time for some play! Barb had taken Lily to Evans Plunge, a combination hot springs/waterslide in Hot Springs. We had never been there before and although Barb said it was a little crowded she said she would go back there again. She had also taken Lily to Wind Cave National Park to complete the Jr. Ranger program where she got another badge for her vest!

The four of us went for several jeep rides, with the weather being so nice we were able to remove the top and enjoy the fresh air. We visited The National Forest Office, Mt. Rushmore, drove the Needles Highway, the wildlife loops in Custer State Park and oh ya, the Purple Pie Place!
Lily with the Purple Pig

Did you know Smokey turned 75 this year!?!?
We ran into a "buffalo jam" in one section of the road where the beasts had both sides of the road blocked for about 20 minutes. They eventually wandered right past us and we were able to carry on.

Dance Party!

The next day Forrest and I snuck out for a quick fishing trip to Ditch Creek. Forrest started out the action by landing this beautiful rainbow.
Not to be outdone, I landed this one a few minutes later. My biggest non-Alaska rainbow to date!
One day when Jim Jordan and I ran over to Kevin's for some tools we ran across two snapping turtles on the road, one was just wandering aimlessly and the other one was laying eggs.

Our week together went way too fast and before we knew it it was time to drive them back to the airport except they had one unexpected passenger on that flight as well. Barb had booked a ticket to fly west with them to Medford Oregon where she will be renting a car and driving down to Redding California where she is assisting with the settlement of Paula’s estate. She only booked a one-way ticket as she does not know how long it will take. I, in the meantime, am headed to Ontario with Daisy and Dakota. Barb is planning on flying into Thunder Bay in a couple weeks when the time is right.

So although I am headed to one of my “Happy Places” it is bittersweet with the death of Paula and going without Barb. Just another reminder of how fragile life is and how it can change in a minute.

Monday, July 8, 2019

8 Days in the Life of a Barndominium Build

This week we are taking a break from our build to help our good friends Kevin and Cheryl with their own project. After three months of not being able to do any substantial work on their barndominium Kevin and Cheryl returned this past Saturday to hit it hard. If you want to catch up with the first three weeks of their build, check out these two posts: Jim and Barb Build a House! and The Barndominium Build Continues!

We had left their place looking like this in late March...…..all the walls were framed some of the trusses up but only about 1/3rd.

 What a change three months makes! In early March the temps were anywhere from the teens to the 40's, our first day of work on his place this week was in the mid 90's. I will tell you right now if given the choice, I would much rather work in the 30's than the 90's!

This trip, in addition to Kevin, Cheryl, Barb and I there is another addition to the build crew. Kevin's friend Earl from Wisconsin joined us. Earl has a lot of building experience so he was a great addition to the team!

Day 1 found us putting trusses on the west wing of the house...…
West side trusses in, ready for roofing

The next day the roofing and underlayment were on and all waterproofed!
Then it was time to finish the east side. As you can see from the first picture in this post, we only got about 2/3rds of the east wing done before we had to call it quits in March. We were so busy working we did not get a lot of "action" pictures but we got some pictures of the results at the end of the day.

Next up were the trusses in the center of the house. We used the boom on the skidsteer to lift them into place where Earl and I nail them tight. Once that was done Barb and I got busy doing the underlayment while Kevin and Earl worked on the chimney on the other side of the house.
Earl in the center of the trusses putting in spacers

Barb was the underlayment queen

Earl cutting the ridge vent on the roof

Cheryl got into some roof action as well!

We also put an addition layer of 1" foam around three sides of the house for additional insulation, the final step (for now) was to put the house wrap around the whole thing. 

As fast as we could get a side foamed and wrapped Kevin was throwing windows in!
Barb and Kevin applying window tape

First two windows in!
We had to get the fireplace in before the house was entirely closed up as it was so heavy we used the skidsteer to get it in. We had a little fun with Cheryl by putting a boars head above the fireplace in the bedroom..... 
For some reason I don't think the boar is staying....
By the end of the 8 days we had the entire house wrapped, the roof on and water tight and all the windows in!

Now their house is basically in the same stage as ours. The big difference is it took Barb and I ten weeks to get to this stage, at Kevin and Cheryl's place we are there in 4 weeks of work. 

Kevin and Cheryl brought their new jeep as well so on the 4th of July we called it quits early (like 4:00) and went for a jeep ride.....
One of these jeeps is cleaner than the other!

Earl, Barb, Kevin and I (Cheryl took the picture)
Mama deer with two fawns
On their final evening here we had a steak fry at our place. We were joined by Jim and Brenda as well as Dan and Bonnie. We were so busy chatting it up that no one took any pictures! Progress on our place was pretty much at standstill this week with the exception on one door, one very big door..... When everyone was over for that evening we put in the 12' slider on the south end.....

Dan and Kevin hold the door while Earl is applying caulk

Earl applying window tape while Dan and I peep out at Cheryl
Slider in and set!
All was not sunshine and roses during the week. It rained practically every day. Luckily the rain cycle was late in the day and was after we quit work. We also had tornado warnings two days in a row and one of the local weather watchers caught this picture and posted it on Facebook. That is a little too close for comfort!
One might think that after such an intense week we would sit back and recover a few days but such is not the case. Our son Forrest arrives on Wednesday to wire the house and Barb and I have one more interior wall to get up before he gets here!