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day 3669: rolling down the (kickapoo) river!

day 3669: rolling down the (kickapoo) river! I.

the kickapoo river is a 126-mile-long twisty turny tributary of the wisconsin river and gets its name from an algonquian word meaning “one who goes here, then there”. rolling down the river the low and slow river is one of the many highlights of the driftless region. because the region didn’t get razed flat by the advancing glaciers then dumped with drift they receded the river offers some spectacular views.

and it’s all the more fun when you roll down the river when family are visiting.

day 3669: rolling down the (kickapoo) river! II.

between intentionally goofing around and actually accidentally running into each there was a lot of contact on the river. i’m surprised one of them didn’t dump it. nope, that honor went to their mothers :-)

day 3669: rolling down the (kickapoo) river! III.

it was absolutely gorgeous day. sunny, light breeze, warm but not hot and no bugs!

day 3669: rolling down the (kickapoo) river! IV.

day 3669: rolling down the (kickapoo) river! V.

the ancient geography throws off a serious Enchanted Land where Faeries might Play vibe.

day 3669: rolling down the (kickapoo) river! VI.

this here is what is known locally as river beer. i think not so much because it tastes like a river but because if you take a spill it’s not the end of the world if you lose a few in the river. but we don’t do that, leave no beer behind is my motto.

day 3669: rolling down the (kickapoo) river! VIII.

on the ride back from the landing in a packed bus of merry ( and tipsy ) river goers, odin notices the sign on the bus has the same number for the half a dozen services on emergency services sign. he thinks someone was trying to make an joke that he doesn’t get. i tell him there was a day when 911 didn’t exist and you had to call a different number for all the different services and the numbers were different from town to town. he gave me the man-the-olden-days-were-crazy look.

day 3649: finally flying the kite aerial photography rig!

day 3649: finally flying the kite aerial photography rig! I.

a little over a year ago i thought about getting into kite aerial photography with odin and almost exactly a year ago we beta tested the rig and took frida goes for her first ride in the galaxie 500 in search of the wind. and then we waited. and waited. and waited for a non-stormy windy day when we had the time to fly a kite. turns out that combination of conditions is a rarity! and i started to believe that waiting for the wind was the wrong strategy and we needed to start thinking about heading to windy places.

so we planned ahead and brought the gear on vacation in the upper peninsula of michigan where odds are good we’d find a good breeze coming off lake michigan.

sure enough, just a few hundred feet from where odin and his cousin flew kites for the very first time almost exactly 8 years to the day, we launched the rig into the air.

but first, we tested without the camera attached to see if the breeze seemed strong enough. sure seemed so!

the kite was up for about 10 minutes and took 40 shots and i we got 1 that was perfectly aligned when shooting every 15 seconds. i’m sure there’s probably some sort of optimum to be found between decreasing the time between shots ( and reducing the battery life ) and just leaving the kite up longer.

day 3649: finally flying the kite aerial photography rig! II.

we mounted the canon sd450 running the canon hack development kit onto the kit and using the super simple intervalometer that comes with the stock kit set the camera to take a picture every 15 seconds. i was hoping we’d get into the frame on take off. odin’s feet did :-)

day 3649: finally flying the kite aerial photography rig! III.

the results turned out awesome! it doesn’t have any fancy stabilization sytem and it was really windy so odds are low that at any given moment the camera is going to be perfectly aligned with the horizon. i think in the future i’ll set the time between shots to a shorter duration to increase the chances if getting aligned with the horizon.

day 3649: finally flying the kite aerial photography rig! IV.

at this point the kite was maybe a 150 feet up with the camera swaying around around 20 feet below. odin and i started thinking how cool it would be to get a much longer line and a reel to make it easier to get the kite higher up and down faster ( yes, that’s foreshadowing ).

day 3649: finally flying the kite aerial photography rig! V.

the kite was up for about 10 minutes and took 40 shots and i we got 1 that was perfectly aligned when shooting every 15 seconds. i’m sure there’s probably some sort of optimum to be found between decreasing the time between shots ( and reducing the battery life ) and just leaving the kite up longer.

day 3649: finally flying the kite aerial photography rig! VI.

it took a lot of effort in the stiff breeze to bring the kite down with the awkward “reel” that came with the kite. we though surely grandpa must have a old fishing reel! we raced back to the house and of course he did. so we hooked up the kite to the fishing line and went back to the beach.

day 3649: finally flying the kite aerial photography rig! VII.

we tried to let the kite out slowly with the reel but the winds were soooooo strong it just went zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz all out at once – the entire 300 feet or so of line. i thought the reel was going to catch on fire!

day 3649: finally flying the kite aerial photography rig! VIII.

and much to our surprise we couldn’t reel it back in as there was too much drag on the line.

what to do?! i thought i could run the line under a picnic table and keep walking backwards until i pulled the kite down. i got about 10 feet before the line snapped and the kite went sailing away out of sight. at that point we were both very happy we decided to test it without the camera attached.

it took about 30 minutes of wandering through people’s back yards before we found the kite. it had floated about 4 blocks away and thankfully landed in in some trees without the fishing line getting tangled in powerlines.

a very nice lady helped us get it out of the tree by giving us a length of gutter that was just long enough to knock it down. i think she really enjoyed hearing about our adventure as we pulled down the kite and yanked the hundreds of feet of line that draped over her house and across the street into the next block.

odin commented that the kite aerial photography rig was a 110% success but maybe we needed to do a little more work on building a better reel. i couldn’t agree more! i thinnk there might be a outdoor kite line reel winder with lock in our future, but what to do until then? surely we must be able to build something from stuff lying around.

takin’ a hole of the present day.

takin' a hole of the present day.

post 10 mile run endocannabinoids pulsing through my veins with the lyrics of the last song of the run running through my head while i take a sauna with odin at his grandparents home in the upper peninsula

Taking control of the elements,
Making them mine, making them mine.

Touching up all of the elements,
Takin’ my time, takin’ my time.

Takin’ a hole of the present day,
Pushin’ it all, pushin’ it all, pushing it.

Takin’ control of my destiny,
Makin’ it fine, makin’ it fine, makin’ it.

harder. better. faster. stronger.

harder. better. faster. stronger.

today i ran 10 miles faster than i ever have before. i averaged 8.5 minute miles and on the last 5 i was running 8 minute mile pace. i could have easily run the entire 10 miles at a 8 minute mile pace. this means i shaved 10 minutes off my 10 mile run time compared to 1 year ago and about 20 minutes off my time from 2 years ago.

originally i was going to only run 8 miles but it felt so good i tacked on 2 miles. maybe there’s something to being trolled by an ice cream truck :-)

it seems reasonable to project out the performance and gains and predict that i’ll hit 7 minute pace sometime over the next year for half marathon and under distances.

two years ago i honestly thought that was impossible goal for my 6’4″ former clydesdale frame and now it’s almost a reality.

big question is what’s the upper limit? could i hit 6 minute miles. seems impossible now…

current status:

the dudes look less like ladies!

the dudes look less like ladies!

we’ve been watching a few of the suspect roosters and it’s much more evident that probably three of our latest flock of six are probably roosters, which is a bit of drag because roosters in town are a no-no.

the prominent combs are a giveaway in addition to the fact that they are practicing cock-a-doodle-dooing.

update: a few weeks later.

we found a good home for them with someone who appreciates and can have roosters :-)

a psa for anyone thinking about jacking up a 2,000 pound treehouse deck.

a psa for anyone thinking about jacking up a 2,000 pound treehouse deck.

say you’re trying to jack your really heavy treehouse deck that’s 15 feet off the ground. you’ve already done it once without anything too terribly terrible happening and you’re feeling confident.

when you get to raise the other side of the deck to jack up the deck to remove the support you notice the ground is much more sloped and soft directly under the middle of the deck. not ideal conditions. so decide to go a little “off center” on more solid ground without also triple checking to make sure the 4×4 post your using is as close to perfectly vertical as humanly possible.

because guess what happens when you jack up the deck that floats on top of the supports 6 inches and things are leaning a bit?

that’s right! gravity takes over and the 2,000 pound deck falls 6 inches very quickly and shifts over a few inches off center of the supports as it pivots on the 4×4 post and the post falls over almost knocking you cold.

and that’s a check your underpants moment.

so take a little extra time and build up a nice level and solid foundation before jacking up your treehouse deck. you’ll be happy you did.

90 miles. 57.6 mpg. and not even hypermiling the jetta tdi sportwagen.

90 miles. 57.6 mpg.  and not even hypermiling the jetta tdi sportwagen.

after driving our 2005.5 jetta tdi sedan for nine years and 186,000 miles we thought it was time to get another car and loved the gas milease of the diesel but wanted more room so opted for the sportwagen.

we’ve been driving manual transmissions tdis for almost 15 years and in the sedan i could regularly get close to 50mpg which was much higher than the “official” mpg ( which i think was something like 38mpg ) and i was a little nervous that we’d still see that kind of mileage with the wagon which if officially rated at 23 city and 33 hwy.

sure enough after the “break in” period of a few thousand miles i can regularly get higher than 50mpg at speeds between 55-60mph ( it drops to mid to high 40s at higher speeds ).

on a recent trip through rolling hills of the driftless region i managed to get 57.9mpg after driving 90 miles.

and no i wasn’t doing any fancy hypermiling manual transmission moves. pretty amazing. i’m not sure what you with an automatic transmission so can’t say how much of the difference between the official numbers is a result of conservative reporting on volkwagen’s part or my super optimized manual transmission skills.

in the interest of full disclosure, kris took this picture while i was driving :-)

raising a more supportive treehouse support.

raising a more supportive treehouse support. I.

making progress on modification to treehouse deck supports. i pulled down one of the supports “sistered” on a 14 foot 2′x10′horizontal so the support would span the entire deck and doubled up the supports that go down to the bottom lag bolt so the entire support is twice and strong. and possibly the most important modification – 2 1′x1′ 3/8″ steel plates now help reinforce the bottom of the support.

but how to get it back up since it weighs almost 200 pounds and i didn’t want to almost nominate myself for another darwin award? i called in a crew to help! it took the four of us to pull up the support using a proper pulley and a “poor man’s pulley” built by tossing a rope around one of the deck joists.

at one points someone ( not me ) exclaimed, “i didn’t realize i have a phobia of standing under really heavy things that might fall and crush you.” ah, well, fears were overcome and we relatively quickly got the support back on the top threaded rod that goes through the whole tree.

i have to admit that for the entire winter when i was contemplating taking down the supports i thought there was a good chance the whole deck would come crashing down or for some reason or another the support wouldn’t go back in place. so to get it back in place was a tremendous relief.

thanks to joe, jason and david for the help!

raising a more supportive treehouse support. II.

i decided to reinforce the base of the support with steel plates. the way the physics of forces and pivots work, the base of the support is the most probable point of failure so adding the strength of steel makes me happy. many, many thanks to the fine folks at tollefson repair for custom fabricating the plates. the tollerances were perfectly tight.

raising a more supportive treehouse support. III.

d’oh! the 6″ 5/8″ carriage bolts that go through the steel places push the support away from the tree so the 3/4″ lag bolt will not go as far into the tree. i didn’t anticipate that. when i roughed it out the bolts didn’t rest againts the tree. oh well. the lag bolt still goes about 5 inches into the tree which is fine for now. it’s not going to just pop out. someday i might replace it with a longer bolt. for some reason i’d be happier with 9 inches in the tree.

whoohoo! after i secured the support i went up on the deck and making the support span the entire width of the deck has really made a difference. prior to lengthening the support you could feel the slightest “shimmy” when standing out on the farthest corners of the deck. i think it was perfectly safe if but slightly disconcerting. now no shimmy! and i’m much happier that the new support will stand the test of time at the weakest points. hurray!

raising a more supportive treehouse support. IV.

i think i’ll reinforce the second primary primary support on the other side of the deck over the next week and then we’ll be ready for movie screening season.

i have to admit, it’s still a thrill to stand up on the deck and be surrounded by the canopy of the trees. the furnishings are a little spartan for now but i’ll work on that after the second support is finished.