Workshop and Wisconsin

What we call "third season" is still in full effect in Utah, but I took a week and half off from the mountains to get a little work done. I also took some of that time to go back to my hometown in Wisconsin to visit family and friends. My wife had some business in Chicago. Our hometown in southeastern Wisconsin is just and hour north of the Windy City so it was perfect to get some family time as well. 

^When ski season ends is when remodel season begins for me. As I mentioned, "third season" is still in play in Utah, but "third season" also comes with less skiing on a day-to-day basis as the weather conditions really drives when I go touring for ski turns. With the warm weather also comes my transition to my off-season remodeling work. During my son Amos' cancer fight my remodel work had taken a complete backseat. I basically dropped my hammer where I stood and went to the hospital for almost two years. As such, my tools, projects, and timeline went into total disarray. With Amos back at home, a current clean bill of health for him, and the end of ski season nearly upon me I took advantage of some down time in the weather for skiing to get organized. I desperately needed a new workbench and some organization in my workshop. I had a couple days window to do so, and my Dad was in town with an extended layover at the Salt Lake City airport so I took advantage. I needed help with the big 4x4 posts and my Dad is always the most willing of helpers. As most people who spend more then 10 minutes with me can attest I have some real OCD in my nature. This new workbench and shelves in my workshop display that rather effectively I think. I always feel so much better when I get myself organized. It also serves to put my head, tools, and material inventory in order to be ready for the coming projects I have lined up for summer. With my previous timeline shot to hell, and two years behind by now, I have plenty stacked up ahead of me for the summer. 

^My wife, Christine, and our son, Amos, left for Wisconsin ahead of me on Saturday. I had some shifts at Delta Airlines to work before I could meet them in our hometown in southeast Wisconsin. They drove into work with me on Saturday to depart. Christine sent me this picture of Amos watching his favorite cartoon, Thomas and Friends, from the airplane after they left. I left the following Monday to meet them. 

^My wife and I recently acquired a very raw 17-acre tract of hills, woods, and wetlands in our hometown. Some day we wish to build a little country cottage on the property and that will mean a lot of work to prepare the raw land. When I say raw, I mean raw. No driveway, no trails, nothing. My Dad has started trimming a rough trail around the property, but a lot will need to be done before we ever break ground on a foundation. I had a meeting with a family friend, Jerry Epping, who owns a local landscaping company and is very knowledgeable in home building, layout, and the like. Of course, he had all kinds of great ideas and wisdom to impart, which was a huge help to me in this phase we are in with the land. I always rely on my network in everything I do, and this kind of help from Jerry was no exception once again. He has a long career in this business and you really can't put a value on that kind of wisdom and advice. 

^Interestingly, one of my favorite features of the property I had no idea even existed until after we purchased it and my Dad got out on the land to start trimming an access trail. He stumbled upon two natural springs feeding New Munster Creek, which bisects the parcel. This one pictured above is the gusher. My father took it upon himself to name it after my son and mark it with a sign, Amos Springs. 

^New Munster Creek.

^While my wife was working, and Amos was hanging out with various family members I was able to get out to the land to do some more rigorous trail clearing on my Dad's preliminary trial work. He has done great with some light trimming to simply have access to each corner of the property, but he did not want to get too crazy on the clearing work as we have yet to layout a definite plan for the trail network we want to put in. My wife and I have some mountain bike trail aspirations on the land, but have yet to lay it all out properly. There are a few areas on the property where I do have a good idea where a proper trail will go so I was able to do some heavier clearing on at least one section of trail that I know we will surely be using. On my second day of trail work my oldest friend in the world, Adam Mather, stopped by to check out the scene. I was stoked to see him and be able to give him a tour of the property. Growing up with Adam in our hometown we played in the woods around our home and I couldn't help, but remember all the times he and I ran around in terrain just like this land as I walked him around the property. He and I as kids would have had a blast on this property, which is my hope and motivation for it with Amos and his buddies some day.  

^Buddies like my big brother's son, Cole. My big brother and I always dreamed that we'd have kids that would grow up together and be best buddies some day. When Amos was diagnosed with cancer those dreams fell apart for me as I was awash in the uncertainty and doubt that comes with a cancer fight with one's child. Back at home on this trip watching these two play together and get to know each other made all those dreams feel like a possibility again. 

^After dinner at my brother's house the one night Amos gave Cole a big hug good-bye. I nearly lost it. The blurriness of this picture is probably due to the tremble of my hand as I held back my emotion. My career choices have taken me all over the world, but I will always be Wisconsin's native son. I fancy myself a man of the world as a result of my travels, but this rural corner of this Great Lake state will always be my home. The people there will always be my people. My big brother's kids will always be like my own. It is my sincere hope that every moment like this hug will always get me choked up. If there is one thing I have learned through it all it is that moments like this that really make us feel the grandeur of love are what this whole journey through the human experience is really all about. I have felt it everywhere from high mountain peaks to this kitchen floor in my big brother's house, and in my opinion, is the true currency of life with which our success should be measured. Today, I am certainly a very rich man.