A couple Saturdays ago Mel and I woke up a little bit before KP. We were laying in bed talking about our wide-open schedule for the day and neither of us were looking forward to wrestling KP inside the house all day. The weather outside was lousy, so we decided to take a little road trip out to Mystery Cave State Park in southern MN.
The drive took a couple hours, but KP is pretty good in the car, so no big deal. We got an early start because we wanted to be able to drive to the park, tour the cave, eat lunch, and then be able to start our drive home during KP’s usual naptime. So off we went.
KP’s favorite part was the bridge outside the cave. There’s a little creek nearby and she liked the ducks. Go figure, drive 2.5 hours and she wants to look at ducks, which we could have seen at home.
KP’s favorite part was the bridge outside the cave.
The cave was pretty cool, and definitely worth the drive. Once we entered the cave, I dunno. It was a cave. We did cave-type things, told cave-stories, ate cave-snacks, sang cave-songs, and did cave-dances. Here are some photos:
Some dark room in a cave.
Mystery Cave State Park is pretty kid friendly.
Some dark hallway thing in a cave.
I took about 300 photos of stuff like this that are pretty cool but that I will never look at again.
I liked the places where there was a catwalk over standing water.
I was a little worried about how KP would do inside the cave. The tour is about an hour, and she was pretty good, though she definitely got a bit fussy towards the end. However, I’m glad we went, I’d go again, and I would recommend this cave tour to anyone.
Ever been to Mystery Cave State Park? What did you think?
We put some finishing touches on the garage project this past weekend. I bet you thought we were done with the project already, huh? No, we’re still working on some finishing touches.
Last time I posted some photos of the garage it looked like this:
Finished front of garage.
Now it looks like this:
Garage: Barn Lights
Hint: It’s the lights.
All the house bloggers out there are going nuts about barn lights, and we’re no different, I guess. We think it’s a pretty cool look. Ignore the white around the light on the right – I’ll get around to touching up the paint sometime in 2017. With the lights in place, we had our final inspection by the city a couple days ago, so I’m gonna call it. This project is Dunzo.
Huzzah! New question in the inbox! This one comes from someone identifying themselves as “Elder Smith”.
Will you share some of your mission stories with us? We are trying to collect and publish a collection of great LDS mission stories.
Ok, now wait a minute. Does this question sound familiar to anyone? It should, because just over a year ago, my internet friend Joey asked a very similar question. Joey asked if I had any great mission stories to tell. I felt like kind of an ass, because my answer was more or less, “No. Mission stories are dumb and I don’t want to talk about it.” I felt bad, because I get that people who aren’t Mormons probably think Missionaries come home with a zillion great stories, and I felt like I was giving Joey the brush-off.
But it’s true. Missionaries have great experience – meaningful and important experiences – but they make terrible stories. And you know you are in for a particularly terrible story when it starts with “This one time on my mission…”
Just to set the stage, I’ll quote myself from my post a year ago:
After a while, you get a little bit jaded. Now, if I’m sitting in Sunday School and some dude raises his hand and says, “Well this one time on my mission…”, I just roll my eyes.
“Oh great,” I say, nudging the guy next to me. “It’s Mission Story Guy.”
But like the fulfillment of prophecy, guess what Elder Smith’s website is called where he’s publishing a bunch of mission stories. It’s called This One Time on my Mission. And if anyone needs any further proof or convincing that the vast majority of mission stories are dumb, please click through to the website and read a dozen of them or so.
I don’t want to be a downer about mission stories. I’m glad “Elder Smith” has this website thing going on. Good for him. I hope it’s a successful venture and that everyone has a few laughs, but I’ll sit this one out. Well, if anyone out there has a great mission story, don’t share it here – send it over to This One Time on my Mission.
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Sledding at Washburn Park Water Tower
This is a couple months old, but it was a pretty fun day anyway.
More painting in the attic. We threw a few coats of white paint on the hallway and stairway. Unlike the bedroom, we didn’t paint any of the trim. We didn’t want to paint the stairs or the trim along the stairs, and we didn’t really know how to transition from unpainted stair trim to painted baseboards, so none of the trim got painted. Here are some before and afters:
Top of Stairs before.
Top of Stairs after.
Now if we could just get around to getting rid of those awful pink blinds on the window… someday.
A couple weeks ago I mentioned that we were trying to spruce the attic up a bit by just throwing up a bit of paint and making only very minor repairs. Like I mentioned in the previous post, the walls are made of plywood, with a thin skim coat over the top. It’s not holding up well, and the skim coat is chipping off in a lot of places. There has also been some water intrusion over the years, so we were left with a lot of little things like this to repair:
Paint over plywood.
We’re not really putting a ton of effort into it, we’re just mudding it up to conceal the holes for now. It’s not a great long-term fix, but like I mentioned previously, we’re operating under the assumption that the whole attic will be gutted within 5 years, so good enough.
We spent last weekend throwing up some paint on the walls in the bedroom area (we haven’t tackled the hallway yet). Here are a few before and after shots showing the walls as they’ve looked for the past year. The walls were a really awful salmon color. White-washing things really went a long way towards brightening this space up.
Attic Bed Nook – Before
Attic Bed Nook – After
Nice, huh? We updated some of the electrical, and mounted a couple new lights right above each bed. There is a new outlet right at the head of each bed, which isn’t exactly the most convenient place for an outlet, but whatever. That’s where the wires were and moving wires around was out of the scope of this project.
Try this before and after on for size:
Attic Bathroom Door – Before
Attic Bathroom Door – After
We didn’t paint any of the doors – we might in the future, but it didn’t seem like the right thing to do right now. These are beautiful solid wood doors, and I haven’t totally ruled out the possibility of stripping them sometime in the future.
How about this one?
Attic Side – Before
Attic Side – After
What do you think? The space is almost livable now, right? We don’t have house guests all that often, but when we do, I think they’ll appreciate the updated look.
Huzzah! A new question in the inbox! This comes from Andy, with whom I have been friends for many years.
Actually, it’s more of a scolding than a question:
This isn’t really a question… more of a request/demand.
Please add at least 5 new photos to your flickr stream. At least once a week flickr wants me to see that picture of you with your sweatpants pulled harshly into the crack of your ass because and I can’t take it anymore. It’s haunting my dreams.
I have a pair of gray sweatpants I wear to bed sometimes, and every time I pull them out of my drawer the image of your drawers pops into my head. I’d rather see a pair of drumsticks or a bike and think of you, but instead you’ve become the sweatpants in the ass-crack guy. I really don’t think that is a fitting place for you in my memories and I think you’ll agree.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
First off, I have a flickr account? Are you sure?
Hmmm. I have forgotten all about it. I don’t really use flickr. I really want to like flickr, but for heaven’s sake it keeps wanting me to use a Yahoo email account to log in and I don’t even know what that means. I think I have about a dozen Yahoo accounts that I have logged into once and only once, each one created only if I’m trying to access flickr. Or something. Flickr does whatever flickr wants.
Anyway, I appreciate you bringing this to my attention, as lewd photos of myself have no place on the internet. I can recall the offending photograph, but I can hardly recall the sordid details of why the photo exists, and what would cause me to upload such a thing to the internet. You’ll soon notice that I have removed the offending photos, and replaced them with several new photos (which are actually old photos that will be familiar to any readers of this very blog).
I wish you the best of luck with all your flickring, and I hope you are able to expunge the image from your memory. I do not want to lose you as a flickr contact, as you are my only one. Well I’m glad we have taken care of this awful mixup.
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We’ve started a new project around the house. When we bought the place a year ago, our very first task was to rip up all the carpets and paint all the walls to try and get rid of the cigarette smell. It worked pretty well, but we only did it to the main floor. Since we didn’t really have a use for the upper floor of the house, we didn’t bother to do anything to it.
However, the attic has been getting some use as a guest room, and it still smells like cigarettes and has dirty filthy walls. We want to spruce it up a bit to make it nicer for guests, but we don’t want to put too much effort into it since we know we want to gut the whole floor within 5 years or so.
Our plan is just to pull up the carpets and paint the walls. The walls are in rough shape, and still won’t look that great when we’re done, but they’ll be better. The walls in the upstairs of our house are plywood, and every 4′x8′ sheet is clearly visible through cracks in the paint. We won’t fix this by just throwing up some paint, but it will be an improvement anyway.
So we’ve pulled up the carpet and spent a few hours pulling staples out of the stairs. Here are some before and afters:
Carpeted stairs from below.
After carpet removed from below.
The original stair treads are in rough shape, but they sure have potential.
Carpeted stairs from above.
After carpet removed from above.
Glad to get rid of this nasty carpet.
Carpet at top of stairs.
Top of stairs after carpet removed.
Hallway with carpet.
Hallway without carpet.
We aren’t sure what to do with the stair treads. They’ll either need to be sanded and re-stained, or painted. For now, we’ll probably just leave them. That’s something we’ll worry about when we finally get around to gutting all the walls.
Stair treads without carpet.
Stair landing without carpet.
Up next: throw some paint on the walls. We’re still trying to decide if we’re gonna go old-fashioned with paintbrushes and rollers, or if this is the job where we invest in a paint sprayer. I’m leaning towards paint sprayer. What do you think?
Huzzah! A couple more questions in the inbox! Do you guys remember that you can submit questions to the inbox which I will answer if I feel like it? I am an expert at nothing, but that doesn’t stop me from pretending to be. Submit any questions here.
Our first question comes from loyal friend Greg (who I previously thought was dead). You may recall the last time Greg submitted a question, it was a pretty heavy topic. This one is a bit lighter:
Hey Reuben! Another one from the grave. (I emerge about once a year.)
I always tremble of the thought to do work on my house, mainly because every time I start a project it turns into a nightmare, and half the time I don’t even know how to fix or start what needs to be done.
How do you motivate yourself in accomplishing so much with your house? Also, where do you learn to do it?
And we’re glad to have you back, Greg. Thanks for the great question.
Tip #1: When you’re blogging about house projects, if you spread it out over a few months and write 35 posts about the same project, it looks like you’re doing a lot more work than you actually are. Your question is a bit flawed, as it assumes I’m “accomplishing so much.” I think, if you came over to my house and I gave you a house tour, you’d be surprised at how little we’ve actually done to the place.
Tip #2: Invite your in-laws over to do a bunch of projects, then take the credit for it after they leave. Yea, there was that one time we built a garage, but we couldn’t have done it without the in-laws help. That’s about all we’ve done to this house so far. We’ve painted some of the walls, and even then it was really more like my in-laws painted the walls while I went to work all day. That’s it. The in-laws have done a lot of the heavy lifting on a few of the projects we did at our last house too.
Tip #3: Whenever someone asks what you’ve been up to (or if someone at church asks you to help out with something), respond with something like, “Oh, I’m so busy with this darned renovation project.” If they ask for more details, avoid the question with something like, “Yea, what aren’t we renovating right now!” They will think you are doing all sorts of stuff to your house when really you’re just doing clown plumbing. Am I right?
Tip #4: Work on your friends houses. Keep your ears open for opportunities to help friends out. They’ll think you’re a saint for helping, and you’ll learn what NOT to do on somebody else’s house. You might pick up a trick or two along the way, too.
Tip #5: You-Tube. Seriously. Just google any question you have and somebody else has had the same question and the answer is on You-Tube. Nothing can replace actual experience, but You-Tube comes pretty close.
Tip #6: Quit being a scaredy-cat and just try it. Really, if shit’s already broken, you can’t make it worse. Ok, sometimes you can, but you’ll have a good time trying. And really, I don’t know what condition your house is in, but in a lot of older houses (including our last house), even if our work turned out pretty mediocre, it was still better than what we started with. You might be in the same boat. So what if the finished product isn’t perfect? It ain’t perfect now either.
Next question! Long time reader David sends along the following question:
Recommendation for web design software or service?
Ah, designing a website? You’ve come to the wrong place. You must be an RSS reader and have never actually clicked through to the actual website or else you would know that I know nothing about web design. I think there is a program called DreamSlayer or something. If I had a question about web design, I would ask my friend @andyguzman, who designed this for me. Good luck with your project.
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Welcome to another installment of Your North Woods Hiking Guide, your guide to exploring the MN North Woods on foot.
I wrote previously about the lovely little stroll that is the Kawishiwi Falls Hiking Trail, 0.5 miles of trails that lead to a splendid little set of falls along the Kawishiwi River. On our most recent trip back to the North Woods, we stopped in on the trail again, this time completing the easy walk on a chilly 10 degree day in December.
To refresh your memory, here’s what it looks like during the summer:
Kawishiwi Falls Jumpers
And now in winter:
Kawishiwi Falls in winter.
Below Kawishiwi Falls in winter.
Kawishiwi Falls Hiking Trail in winter.
KP was my co-caption, a job she excels at, except for when her hands get cold. Then she just screams, which she started doing right after this photo. Darn, she was even wearing her monkey hat with matching mitts, but I guess it just wasn’t enough for her. She’s kind of a baby.
Still, the rest of our hiking team enjoyed the trip very much, and if you’re in the Ely area in the winter and are looking for an easy way to get out and walk through the woods with the reward of great views of the falls for very little effort, this is a great option.
Stay tuned for the next installment of Your North Woods Hiking Guide.