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

Sonora’s Birthday – 5/10/2019

Before you get too excited, I know Sonora’s birthday isn’t for 5 more days. However, she wanted to have a party with her friends and this was the day that worked out.

Several of them came over. We got them to mostly play outside and try different things. Here are a few photos of them.

Of course I couldn’t keep them out of the house completely, and they wanted to eat cake!

While the kids were inside, I prepped the outside for a movie on the back of the house. The two rows are 100 glow sticks I set up.

Happy Birthday Sonora!

Hogan Haake

Five Days in an Armada

For our latest unicycle trip, we flew to Spokane, WA and rented a Nissan Armada to drive back to St. Louis, MO.

Based on the Nissan website, the Armada I drove back is priced around $55,000. All of the ratings for the vehicle are fairly good. Personally, I hated the SUV and I’ll list the reasons below.

1. The key is a fob. I’m not a huge fan of these as they tend to be much larger than a metal key. My wife’s Camry has a fob and when you touch the door, it unlocks. On the Armada, it took me a while to realize that there is a button on the door handle you can press to unlock the doors. Most of the trip had me pulling the fob out of my pocket to unlock the doors.

2. Range Anxiety. I’m a motorcycle rider and I’m always paying attention to my fuel level. Motorcycles tend to have smaller tanks than cars and a lower overall range. The Armada got an abysmal 16.9 MPG during my 2,630 mile trip. I was constantly worried that I would run out of fuel. My 2004 minivan loaded with tons of gear during our family vacation this summer did better!

3. Adaptive Cruise Control. I swear I tried to like this feature. Using some form of radar, when you have the cruise control set, if you get too close to the vehicle in front of you, it’ll automatically slow down. In some cases, it’ll even brake to slow you down. This is great until you’re cruising along and then realize you’re now going 5 mph under the speed limit because the system crept up on another car and just started slowing down. Or when somebody cuts in front of you, it’ll stiffly apply the brakes to slow you down.

4. Climate Control. When the HVAC system is set on automatic, it doesn’t seem to have any consistency. My wife’s Camry also has this feature which works perfectly. The Armada will speed up and slow down randomly. If its on manual mode where you can set the fan speed and temperature, the fan speed would again change randomly even though I picked my settings. If you turn the vehicle off and back on again (see point 2 for lots of gas stops), it seemed to¬† pick a new random setting that had to be adjusted again.

5. Rough Idle. When the Armada is warmed up and sitting at a stop light, the engine idle is rough. For a vehicle that is supposed to be refined (expensive), I only want to know the motor is there when its pushing me back in my seat from acceleration. At idle, I didn’t have confidence that it wouldn’t just die on me. Note that the vehicle had just over seven thousand miles on it when I returned it to the rental company.

6. Its too big. Driving in the northwestern United States, you experience higher speed limits and lots of BUGS. Every gas stop required me to manually wash the windshield. I’m 6 feet tall and had some issue reaching over to clean the windscreen at stops. Additionally there were tons of sensors for backing up and going forwards. If you need these, its probably too big!

7. Buttons everywhere. I’m a fan of driving, but I hate all of the extra buttons they put in higher end vehicles today. I don’t use most of them.

If you hate driving and the environment, the Nissan Armada is for you. Just based on the fuel economy alone, Nissan should be embarrassed to have produced this vehicle. Before I rented this, I had some vague thoughts of replacing my minivan with a SUV. After this experience, not a chance. Its huge, but has less room inside.

Hogan Haake

Nathan’s First Communion – 5/4/2019

Steve and Jackie invited us to see Nathan’s First Communion. Danelle was out of town, but Corvin, Sonora, and I were able to make it. The church was packed with family and we barely got a seat in the balcony. There are not any photos in church, cause that isn’t my style.

We met them outside after and Nathan was happy to see us. We packed Nathan in the car with us and went by the library on our way to the party at Circle 7 Ranch. Nathan didn’t find any books that he wanted, but he had fun showing us around his library.

The kids playing some sort of phone game.

Jackie in the middle of the party.

Cool cake and cookies.

Nathan and Bob hanging out.

We had a great time and were happy to celebrate with them!

Hogan Haake


Jim Shamel Run – 5/4/2019

Corvin signed up for the Jim Shamel 5k. Danelle was heading out of town that morning so it was just Corvin and myself. We got there early to get his registration packet and the lay of the race. Once I scouted out the race course, I realized it was very close to our house and Danelle could probably see him near the start. I texted her a map of where to stand and she agreed. This would be a surprise for Corvin.

He warmed up with his Webster Groves HS cross country teammates. I hung out and looked after the starting line madness, trying to stay dry.

By the time the racers were coming back near the finish of the race, Corvin was in second place overall. Talk about making a father proud!

He ended up finishing  with a 18:44 time which was his best time ever for a race!

Hogan Haake