South Dakota Kayak Challenge – 5/24/2019

Danelle and I registered for the South Dakota Kayak Challenge for the third time (First and Second SDKC). For this trip, we decided a team would be a good choice and picked Melissa and Megan to be on our team. Melissa and Megan were new to racing, but we thought they would keep the fun level high!

Look how serious we’re taking our first team meeting!

Ignoring all the lead up of training and preparation (3 big paddles on the Missouri river and a few small ones), we were ready to race. Logistics are always interesting when moving extra people that are not part of your direct family. The plan was to get to KC in shifts.

Shift 1: Hogan, Sonora, Melissa in the van with the majority of our paddling gear. We would arrive in KC on the Thursday before the race at my parents house around 8pm.
Shift 2: Danelle and Megan would take Megan’s car and start driving from St. Louis around 10 or 11 pm and get to KC in the early hours of the morning.
Shift 3: Corvin would take the Amtrak train on Friday afternoon as he had a school final (due to snow days, the school year got extended) on Friday morning.

We all eventually made it to KC and were out of the house by 6:30am Friday morning to make the drive to South Dakota.

Along the Missouri/Iowa border along I-29, we saw lots of flooding of farm fields. I-29 had in fact recently been re-opened from nearly a month long closure due to flooding. There were whitecaps in farm fields and lots of exploded grain silos.

Somewhere around Omaha, Nebraska, the rain cleared up for a beautiful day. We had plenty of time as long as we stayed on schedule, there was more to do. First stop is Mullberry Bend Overlook. It is easy to get to and on the way with a great preview of part of the race course. Even on our third visit to the overlook, Danelle and I enjoyed every second of the view!

A team photo with our custom shirts.

New to the race for us this year was the need to get a permit to be on the water. Lucky for us the permit office was in Vermillion, SD. This is about 10 minutes away from the overlook. We saw Jeff Behrns (a fellow STL area racer) there also picking up his permit. The county building looked awesome, so we loitered for a bit.

After growing up in a family that may have been famous for being late, I may have had us ahead of schedule. This afforded us time to visit Valiant Vinyards. It wasn’t a very hard decision, our team name is Aquaholics.

After some wine tasting and hanging out, we headed in to Yankton, SD to check into the race. Once checked in, we went to our favorite Riverfront Events Center to check into our room. The room was epic, but you’ll have to see it in the video below if you’re curious! Starving, we went to Czeckers Sports Bar & Grill to get some dinner/late lunch. We highly recommend the “Garbage Gut” Basket as an appetizer. Remember I mentioned time running out…

Before lunch was over, I walked back to the hotel while the girls ate and grabbed a shower. The girls got back as I was finishing up and we made last minute plans. We filled the van with all of the stuff that we didn’t need on the boat and I drove south to Sioux City, Nebraska for the finish line of the race. There, I picked up the bus shuttle back to the start of the race.

I did some napping and some chatting with familiar faces. Back at Yankton, we reviewed the competitors boats and enjoyed the safety meeting.

A quick walk of the nearby bridge and then to bed to get some rest before the race!

Race day came and we all got up and packed with lots of anticipation. We wanted to finish strong and didn’t know what to expect of our competition. We were in a 3 boat field and we only saw one of the other boats before the race started. It was a 5 person Hawaiian style outrigger boat with traditional paddles. When the race did start, they jumped out in front of us to our dismay.

We paddled non-stop all day. Every half hour, I would call out switch and one by one the girls would switch paddling sides from the front back to me. On the hour, each of us took a short break to eat, drink, and whatever else we needed to do to be comfortable. Both Megan and Melissa apologized to me for taking photos and video, but I very much appreciated them documenting the race for the team.

As we got near the third of 4 checkpoints, the team was starting to drag a bit. I had us do 20 stroke surges of paddling hard and counting when we looked bad and out of sync. This helped bring the tempo back. But the team was disappointed that we were stuck at a second place finish. As we rounded the third checkpoint, we saw the first place team stopped at the checkpoint. After we shouted out our boat number, they saw us and yelled something like they were coming for us. I promptly issued a 20 count to show them we meant business!

For the next 2 hours, the boat had never moved faster. I thought I saw the other team behind us and prodded the team on. At Checkpoint 3, they were 12 minutes ahead of us. At checkpoint 4, we  were 7 minutes ahead of them. By the finish, we were 23 minutes ahead of them. I think they had a faster boat, but a less experienced crew. Either way, we wanted it bad and put lots of effort into our victory.j

Speaking of victory, just after we crossed the finish line, something interesting happened. About 100 yards after the finish line is the 90 degree turn into a cove to pull out. Just before the turn, an Asian Carp jumped into the boat at the second position. Watch the video below and see Melissa’s reaction to the fish, I promise its worth it!

The volunteer below pulled the fish out of the boat and threw him back in the water to jump another day.

After loading the boat, the team decided to share a hotel room one more night at the host hotel. The boat was loaded up and our clean bags were drug up to the room for one more night. But first, the awards ceremony.

Right to left, Bill Behrns, and his son Jeff Behrns.


Megan and Danelle enjoying their trophies!

What an amazing race with fantastic people. Talk about the perfect way to kick off the summer!

Our Video

Hogan Haake


State 13 – Wisconsin

July 7, 2019

Our last state for this weekend unicycle trip is Wisconsin.

The plan was not so simple. We woke up early and got breakfast. We normally ate breakfast at the hotel, but today was going to be something special!

We were going to meet a friend at a ferry dock and pick up a boat to help transport across the country. We would bring it from Michigan to St. Louis where somebody else would pick it up and continue its journey. We got the boat loaded up and all of the details we needed for the next leg.

Next we would load the Lake Express Ferry and go across Lake Michigan with the van and end up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to unicycle the downtown area. We got in line for the ferry, got the van inspected and then went to the ticket window. I told her our name for the reservation. She came back and double checked our reservation. When she came back again, she explained that the ferry was full and our reservation was for 11pm. Frustrated, I asked for a refund and we decided to leave. We drove a short ways and pulled over to re-group.

I decided we would drive to Racine, WI and unicycle where we had previously planned before we learned about the ferry. An extra 90 minutes to the trip and way more driving than I thought I would!

There isn’t much in this world more annying than toll roads, and we got to experience many of them.

While all of this may sound horrible, the unicycle riding turned out fantastic. Once we got the van parked and started riding, all of the annoyance from the day vanished! We ended up riding out on a man made rock and concrete structure used to make a protected harbor. We did lots of climbing around and riding through the water!

Who knew that missing the ferry would turn out to be such a blessing. This is the number 1 ride we’ve done thus far in all of the states!

Corvin’s journal entry.

Our Strava entry.

Our map of completed states.

Total Trip Miles: 64.34
Total Moving Time: 12h 57m 47s
Total Elevation Change: 1645 feet
Total Hogan UPD: 9
Total Corvin UPD: 4

Hogan Haake




Pervert Ride – 5/19/2019

I’m always looking for interesting places to ride my motorcycle. A previous ride had me in some interesting parts of Illinois. Today, I went back to take photos of all the adult establishments that I could find, hence the name of this post. Please note that no establishments were entered during this event. And if that still isn’t enough, stick around after the photos to hear about how karma got the best of me!

After getting all of these photos, and I probably missed a building or two, I decided to continue heading north on Illinois Route 3 to Alton, IL. During this part of the ride, I noticed the clouds building. Before long, it was pouring rain and I was getting drenched with rain. Eventually, it cleared up after I was completely wet. I stopped to get a few photos of the flooding.

The Great River Road is closed.

The water is in the parking lot ahead. That red thing sticking out is the entrance to the casino, but its unusable as the water is too high.

I guess this makes it a water park?

Using water to shoot the mud back into the river from the parking lot.

Hogan Haake

Front Steps – 5/17/2019

If there is one thing houses need, its constant maintenance. Today’s edition features our front porch steps. About 5 years earlier, we had re-finished the porch steps. They were more than due again. This time, it was more than just paint that we needed. Several steps became rotten and needed to be replaced. I’m far from a carpenter, so you experienced home improvement people may need to avert your eyes at what comes next.

I started by removing the boards that had the most rot. About half of the screw heads still worked and were able to be unscrewed the traditional way. However, there were more stubborn screws that required me to chisel out the screw head. From there, I used vice grips to turn the screws by hand. Only then could I remove the boards…

Once I removed all of the really bad boards, it was time to deal with the railing. Those were nearly completely rotted out and needed to be replaced. I was fearing this part of the project as it would require skill and accuracy. Don’t worry, I got Danelle to help for the skill and accuracy part!

Here are the steps with the new boards installed. Now all I have to do is the the railings back on!

Every project needs a proper mess before it can be complete!

And finally (we’ll skip the part with all of my cursing and frustration), the finished product with the railings re-installed!

Because the boards on the steps are new treated lumber, they need to dry out before they can be painted. You can expect an update later this summer as we re-finish the whole thing.

Hogan Haake

State 12 – Michigan

July 6, 2019

Michigan is the next state in our path.

We talked with a local resident before the trip and were tipped off to the Kal-Haven Trail. Its a thirty plus mile trail going from the coast of lake Michigan east past Kalamazoo. As we drove to the trail, it was raining lightly. We had perfect riding weather for the trip so far. Our drive was going west from Kalamazoo on highway 43. We stopped at a Subway and dashed inside trying to avoid the rain. There we ordered two foot long sandwiches. The goal was to split one before we started, and the second at the half way point of our ride.

It didn’t take long before we got to South Haven, MI and the rain was stopped with clear skies. Its amazing with a 30 mile drive will do for the weather. In the parking lot, we prepared for the ride. Mostly a pre-ride video, and loading the water bag with supplies. They had a very nice bike fixing rack with attached tools in the parking lot.

It didn’t take long before the trial got interesting. It paralleled the black river. We chatted with a boat and saw them again later when the river and the path met again. We also had to divert around a flooded section of the trail that Corvin rode through on our way back out.

The trail quickly turned to packed earth and chat. Very similar to the Katy Trail in Missouri. We stopped and played at the iconic covered bridge that is in most of the photos of the Kal-Haven trail. There are several minutes of video trying different camera angles as we rode across. Then we finished heading out 5 miles on the trail. Near our turn around spot, we passed by a large building. We realized quickly from the smell that it was full of hogs. I love bacon, but its very hard to get past the smell of their poop!

We enjoyed our half way sandwich after we got clear of the hog building and could breathe again. While this trail is similar to the Katy in Missouri, its high on our list of rides. The tree canopy made the ride wonderful! You should visit the Kal-Haven trail if you’re ever in the area.

Corvin’s journal entry.


Our Strava entry.

Our map of completed states.

Total Trip Miles: 60.44
Total Moving Time: 12h 11m 34s
Total Elevation Change: 1542 feet
Total Hogan UPD: 8
Total Corvin UPD: 4

Hogan Haake