Martin

Blisters & Bears

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Our crew debated the distance — was it 26 or 28 miles? — but the fact remains: we hiked all day last Saturday.

From long before sunrise (with head lamps) until the dinner hour. We trudged up grassy ski slopes and hoofed across ridges; we slogged through mud, and marveled at spongy, moss-covered forests; we cursed while wading through weedy, abandoned trails.

But we made it.

This was Xtreme Hike 2015, which I previously prattled about here and here. The event raises money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Our location for year three? Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia.

Noteworthy details:

Maisie and I completed the hike at 5 pm… just a shade under 12 hours.

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Mile 23 or so

 

Martin, hobbled by quarter-sized blisters, limped across the finish line a bit later. 

In the predawn hours one hiker encountered a bear, and she temporarily lost her way while fleeing the scene. (I was elsewhere on the trail, but you hear things when you’re carrying a walkie-talkie.)

The rest of us observed bear treads in boggy patches.

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We also viewed a kick-ass sunrise behind Shavers Lake.

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And later, majestic mountain views.

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Kudos to the crew of 45 hikers who ventured out last weekend.

And a great big “thank you” to every one who donated — especially those subjected to my ceaseless nagging for contributions.

You rock.

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What’d you miss? Mites and more

 

There’s no way to rehash the could’ve-been blog posts from recent months. But here are a few events and observations that come to mind. In no particular order:

*I completed 3,000 pushups in 30 days.

*Jazz and I helped with crowd control at the Potomac Hunt Races. Anxiety fueled Jazz’s flop sweat in the opening parade.

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*Pigpen (our aged car) shed some interior bolts and other parts of questionable importance.

*Cayden, Hadley and Brynn participated in school recitals, riding lessons, pony club, baseball, softball, and drama club.

*At one point, I wore the same clothes for three days.

*Martin found a decomposing raccoon in the hayloft.

*I trailered Rocky home from a riding lesson, driving a truck with a flat tire and an empty fuel tank.

*Cayden met Zeb Hogan, host of Nat Geo’s “Monster Fish.”

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*I found a starved dog, dumped on the road.

*My insomnia ran amok. I quit Ambien, then took it up again.

*We discovered that barn swallows shed bird mites when they are nesting.

*The kids slept in a tent in the yard, until a storm nearly blew them away.

*My friend Sarah competed in a sidesaddle race and placed 2nd.

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*I opened the mailbox one day and found a field mouse staring back at me.

*We plotted several farm improvements but accomplished none of them.

*Cayden and Hadley learned to surf.

*I treated Hadley’s infected toe using the horses’ Ichthammol, per my veterinarian’s instructions.

*Maisie stayed at a nice hotel with us.

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*Martin considered removing a wasps’ nest by grabbing it with gloved hands, and stuffing it into a trash bag. He changed his mind when I started videoing the event.

*I cleaned out my mom’s freezer and threw out cans with sell-by dates from 15 years ago.

*I quit the blog and picked it up again.

 

 

Finally: The Roof!

 

The barn roof. I promised “after” photos and a rebuild synopsis weeks ago — way back in 2014.

What can I say?

Sometimes life derails your plans.

If you missed the first chapter on the barn roof, you can play catch-up here.

Otherwise, here’s the finished product.

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John, our Amish contractor, did a great job. He estimated that roof replacement would require a month, give or take weather woes. And he was spot on. He and his crew dismantled the original roof, circa 1910ish… 1920ish… and rebuilt it within four weeks.

Well done!

There were, however, a few dicey days.

Initially, John planned to tackle the roof in bites, shelling a small section and replacing it, before crabbing along the framework to the next patch of real estate. That’s how construction proceeded for the first few weeks.

But near the end of the renovation, the guys changed their game plan: they stripped the roof naked, in one ambitious, magnificent gulp.

Behold, the belly of the beast:

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Unfortunately, this bold declaration of roofing nudity coincided with a shift in the weather forecast: meteorologists swapped their fair-sky guarantee for a wavering prediction of “maybe rain.”

Maybe-rain is a huge motivator. John and the boys moved fast.

Here’s the roof on a Thursday afternoon in mid-December:

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And here it is the next day, with rain imminent. See? A flurry of activity when precipitation is breathing down your collar.

 

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So, the barn roof roof is done. Mission accomplished. (Note: when the kids pine for anything, I point to the roof. For example — Brynn: “I wish I could sleep in my own bed.” Me: “You want your own bed? Look at that barn. See that nice shiny roof? There’s your new bed!”)

I’m relieved that this project is completed. I won’t miss the construction scene… living amidst a cast of pickup trucks and a crew of boom lifts and skid loaders. I’m tired of counting the throng of rutted tire tracks snaking through the muddy yard.

But I’ll miss you, John.

John would’ve made a top-notch regular among the Funny Farm cast.

His Amishness was entertaining. Granted, at times he was totally high-tech. John worked off a cell phone and I watched him maneuver earth moving equipment and pilot the boom lift to raise roofing panels skyward.

But in other ways, he was refreshingly clueless. There was the rubber snake incident.

And when he pointed toward a distance cell phone tower — so obviously a tower, thinly veiled to resemble a silo.

“Wow,” marveled John. “They must have a lot of cows at that farm.”

Martin was quiet, before stating, “John? It’s a cell phone tower.”

 

So many good John lines… so little time.

My favorite exchange?

John was standing beside the barn, trying to make small talk with Martin.

“So,” John said to Martin. “You play polo?”

Martin looked blank. “No, I don’t play polo. Why would you think that I play polo?”

John shrugged, then gestured at the pocket of Martin’s rugby. “Because of your shirt,” he said.

Hey Ralph Lauren, here’s a tip off: the Amish community is unchartered waters.

There’s a final frontier for your Polo brand…

 

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