Solar Eclipse at Waterfall – 8/21/2017

We took the kids out of school and invited some SLU students to come out to Waterfall to enjoy the event with us. It was away from civilization and promised to have a decent view. Our property was in the path of the totality, making it a perfect viewing spot! We decided to spend the night before at the property and had a few others join us.

With the morning of the eclipse at hand, more people started showing up. All told, we had around 20 people come out to see it, including my parents

We put up a slack line in the only place we had available and made the most of it. I even got my mom up on it.

The eclipse was going to start after lunch, so we all hung around in the shade eating way too much lunch and snacks!

Here is what the eclipse festivities looked like getting ready.

And a few leading up to the eclipse, with a filter on the camera of course…

My favorite photos came during the totality. For about 60 seconds, you could uncover your eyes and get a glimpse directly at the sun. The most important thing was not to wait too long before looking away, cause it ended quick!

And finally if you’re still reading, stop and watch a video of the madness. Its stop motion for the hour leading up to the eclipse. Unfortunately the battery died before it started.

Hogan Haake



House On The Rock – 8/4/2017

On the way home from our vacation in Boundary Waters, we decided to stop for a half day at “House On The Rock“. I’ve heard about it many times and about how good it is. My feelings are different. It wans’t the worst way to waste away the day, but it is far from a must see. The house on the rock was probably very impressive before all of the trees in the area grew up and obscured the feat it was to build it.

All that being said, the house and visitor’s center wasn’t the centerpiece of the place. The house, was mostly open air, so it smelled musty and was cold, this was unexpected! But the junk collection portion (buildings after the house) were interesting. Look through some of the photos below and make your own judgement. I don’t have any desire to go back.

Parking lot on the way in.

On the way in.

Old slot machines.

Several rooms on instruments that play themselves.

This is the first wooden carved door that we say. But after about 20 more, none of them seemed special.

Fancy landscaping.

Its known for a arm that sticks out from the top of the rock. This is as far out as you can go, looking down at the tree tops.

Some control boards for the animated people and instruments.

This in an animated orchestra. Each “person” is full sized with an instrument.

Danelle being silly with a fountain on the way out.

If you don’t like red carpet, DON’t GO!!! 2/3 of the surfaces in this place are red carpet.


Family Vacation to BWCA – 7/28/2017

Our family vacation this year was a trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA). I was last there in 1992 just before my sister Hannah was born and I was eager to return with my family. We started our trip with a scenic drive. I started by taking the kids on the Golden Eagle Ferry in St. Louis over the Mississippi river.

I decided to try taking the road from the ferry north for a scenic drive. Little did I know that the road was extra narrow and had many hairpin turns. I was driving under the speed limit for safety and to keep the family from getting car sick.

We made the drive over two days to get a head start on the drive. By day two, is starts to be a chore and people get inventive. Sonora did a craft project and Corvin found ways to block the sun so he could read. Most of the drive, we listened to the audio book, The Scorch Trials by James Dashner.   

On the second day, we got to Ely, MN just after lunch and checked in at Cliff Wold’s outfitters. There we got the scoop on our trip and found out our accommodations for the night. On the drive out to check out the cabin, I found a sign that I misread, so I fixed it…

We finished out our night exploring the tiny town of Ely, Mn.

Eventually we had dinner and went back to our cabin. Sleep didn’t come easy as the mosquitos didn’t want us to sleep. And maybe we were all excited. But when the morning came in, we all got ready in a hurry and waited for the shuttle to come and pick us up.

Unloading the shuttle van at the start of the trip.

Here we are with all our gear for 5 days, packed to head off at Lake One, the start of our trip.

It looks like a dead end, but this is the right way to continue onto the next lake.

Hogan and Sonora on a peaceful lake with 3 fifths of the gear.

These plants with flowers were a constant companion when the water was shallow and calm during the trip.

Nothing makes a selfie better than having Sonora and I in the background.

Way too many times the BWCA took our breath away with the scenery.

Corvin with his tree man bracelet on.

One of the many portages of the day.

The end of the portage and the stark scenery from the 2011 Pagami Creek forest fire. 6 years later and the trees are starting to come back.

The wildlife didn’t seem to notice us getting close for a photo.

Somewhere around here, we made camp for the night at a fantastic site on a huge rock overlooking the lake with its own beach. There are a bunch of memories from this campsite but a few really stick out. There were not many choices of where to hang our food bag as the fire didn’t leave many tall trees. What we found wasn’t great, but would work for the night. At some point in the night, I woke up to lights, but couldn’t place them as there is no electricity and nobody else around. Danelle woke up around the same time and we ended up going outside. There, we realized it was lightning to the north of us. I was a little concerned as we were out a bit on a point, but decided to sleep anyway.

Sometime later we hear a strange snapping sound. Worried about a bear attacking our food, we shined a light out and spotted the food bag. Everything seemed in place and we finally gave up and went back to sleep. We woke up the next morning to realize one of our tent poles had snapped. We ended up duct taping a splint on the broken pole for the rest of the trip.

Making dinner at our campsite on a rock.

Camp is setup. The canoes are lower down beached on the sand.

Having one actual chair was a nice change for one of us versus the canoe seats and log benches.

You can never go wrong making bacon.

The tent pole that snapped in the night.

More water vegetation.

Hogan carrying a canoe on a portage.

Danelle and Corvin paddling.

Danelle getting photographs of scenery and Corvin hiding from the sun.

Love the calm days out on the water.

I must have asked Sonora to turn for a photo cause she’s looking at me.

Stopped for lunch and a swim.

The highest level of cliff jumping we allowed the kids during the trip. I spent a bunch of time making sure it was deep enough before allowing it.

Corvin’s favorite pose for the trip. It made an interesting sound when our boat glided over the vegetation.

Its awesome to be able to see down into the water and view the vegetation.

Tons of these flowers on the water.

Corvin testing to see how deep the water is.

A splint for a broken tent pole. Always bring duct tape!!!

Sonora and Danelle planning our route together.

There are not enough sunsets in the BWCA!

It wouldn’t be camping without trying to cut something too big for the fire!

Some pots are more dirty than others. This won’t be fun to clean.

Corvin on a fallen tree.

Sonora taking a break from packing up in the morning.

Danelle taking a break from packing up in the morning.

Hogan in the middle of a long portage with a heavy aluminum canoe.

Sonora and Corvin putting their sails up.

Leaving a portage.

Our favorite campsite of the trip. Log sofa to the left and rock coffee table in the middle.

Without Internet and electricity, you do silly things to entertain yourselves.

My hands while cleaning the nasty pot. Good thing I soaped the outside, as it came totally clean.

When your hands are too dirty to touch yourself, the kids can sculpt your hair.

Lounging on the wood sofa.

A hair monster?

Double man bun?

The best campsite without our junk.

Takeout at Snowbank Lake.

Group shot at Snowbank Lake takeout.

Sonora modifying a road sign.





Katy Trail with Corvin – 7/6/2017

Corvin and I went out for a unicycle ride on the Katy Trail. We didn’t set any distance or time records, but we did spend time together. I like hearing Corvin talk about his life and the things that interest him. He even got up on the big unicycle for a bit. While he can do it, its still a little much for him. But at the rate he is growing and getting better, its only a matter of time.

Hogan Haake