Kids To Maine -Part 1 – 8/2/2018

I promised my brother Hiatt that I would take his kids home after the summer to Maine. I was looking forward to a family vacation in the north east. I had not really spent any time there, so it would be a cool family trip. But two days after I told him I would do it, we found out about Corvin’s Freshman orientation and sports tryouts. This meant that Corvin and Danelle were not going. I didn’t like splitting up, but Sonora and I would go to Maine with Sean and Michaela and have a great time. Later, my mom offered to join us, so it became 5 of us headed out!

Michaela can’t leave without holding Coat Rack first!

Sean posing in the kitchen.

Eventually the day came, we left on a Thursday afternoon from St. Louis. Dad brought the kids and grandma to St. Louis to save us some driving. My plan was to have at least one interesting stop for an hour or more each day of the long drive so all of us didn’t go crazy driving in the van all day! So we headed east quickly on I-70. All of these stops were planned by looking at the proposed route and asking Google what there was to do. I hoped that I chose wisely. So we first got food at Sonic in Indianapolis. We were all ready to eat, but we probably took too long at dinner…

I’m not sure what was going on in the back of the van, but the girls were having fun!

The fun continued into our dinner stop.

I did my best to entertain Sean along the way since the girls were focused on each other. I hope he likes the silly photos, cause they don’t make me look any better!

I eventually got them packed up and headed across town for our first official fun stop of the trip. I had us going to The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park: 100 Acres. It looked like a cool place to get out and walk around. It was so much fun, we were disappointed we didn’t get there sooner to see more of it. The kids (and mom and I) had a fantastic time!

The world’s craziest basketball court that the kids couldn’t get enough of. Its right off the parking lot.

Some sort of pseudo slide that the kids took turns going down.

This is a skeleton that is in parts on the ground. You can jump from part to part.

I couldn’t get mom to jump.

Looking across the lake.

Aliens, or rings suspended in the air?

More of the basketball court.

The kids slept great cause I kept them up late driving. Then being the horrible task master that I am, I got them up early to start the next day. We needed to get to the middle of New York to be on time. So we started another long day of driving. We stopped in Walmart for some supplies and I found some fun…

Michaela-saurus-rex

Sonora-saurus-rex

Hungry, Hungry, Hogan

Today I had two stops up my sleeve. The first was a very cool park on lake Erie aptly named “Erie Bluffs State Park” We only went through a small corner of Pennsylvania, but the park was there on the lake and it was perfect. The nature was a great break from the road. We all hiked and acted silly along with catching frogs.

Group selfie

Sean riding a strange tree.

Michaela in the tree.

Sonora found a different one.

Grandma getting funky!

Michaela caught this frog.

Just down the road was Presque Isle State Park that was also on my interesting list. Its a small strip of land that comes out into the lake. I figured we could drive out there and view it. It had at least 11 different beaches on it and we couldn’t resist!

Sonora and Michaela playing on the beach.

Enjoying the light house.

I got a funny picture of Sean when we stopped for lunch.

The last day of our drive to Topsham, Maine was still fun. The kids were getting anxious to see mom, but I kept them busy.

Our stop today wasn’t going to be much for the kids, but I thought my mom would appreciate it. Cooper’s Cave in Glens Falls, New York is where James Fenimore Cooper was inspired to write The Last of the Mohicans. I’ve been there before with Danelle, so I knew what to expect and approximately where it was. It was only going to be a 30 minute stop as its very industrialized now, but still worth a moment. The kids put up with it quite well and just enjoyed being out of the van for a bit.

Sean and Michaela on the ledge.

Mom at the overlook.

Its not a selfie if you use a tripod and a timer. Here we all are!

I made a few more random stops at things that looked interesting…

Like this covered bridge. Of course we drove through it.

And a a cow statue for mom 🙂

Driving north on I-95, as we crossed into Maine from New Hampshire, we encountered a traffic jam. A bathroom break was needed, so I got off the highway in search of a gas station. To make a long story short, we found one back in New Hampshire and one highway exit south. When we got back on the highway, the next exit after our original one was a rest area that would have been a much better choice.

Eventually we got the kids home to mom. Sonora decided to spend the night with Michaela. Mom and I found the hotel and rested until the next day…

Hogan Haake

 

Stream Team Annual Picnic – 7/28/2018

Every summer we all look forward to the annual trek to Meramec State Park near Sullivan, Missouri, for the Stream Team Picnic.  The weather is often nasty hot, but there are plenty of opportunities to go for a swim or float on a tube in the Meramec River and there is lots of shade at the picnic grounds.  The picnic also features a great potluck (get stuffed like it’s Thanksgiving!), awards for volunteers who have gone above and beyond, games and crafts for the kiddos, and the biggest raffle I’ve ever seen.

The raffle for 2018 had something for everyone!

 

This year, Stream Teams United helped lead the event, so that means that the Haake family helped out more than in past years.  Our garage was the home for the raffle collection and much of the food before the event.  The assembly of the raffle packages was a fun afternoon!  Hogan was one of the grill masters, with help from Sonora.  And the whole family helped out with random tasks during the picnic, like blowing up the inner tubes for the float, setting up the kids games, and handing out T-shirts.

We’ll be back again next year, helping Stream Teams United to continue the decades-long tradition of the Stream Team Picnic.  Maybe we’ll see you there!

Danelle

2018 MR340 – 7/26/2018

If you haven’t heard of the MR340, you should. Its a 340 mile paddling race from Kansas City to St. Louis on the Missouri  river. I’ve done it a few times and written about it on here. This year, I didn’t paddle, but I did volunteer at the Klondike ramp and of course go to the finish line after work on Friday to celebrate.

First, our time at Klondike. I was scheduled from 6 pm to midnight on Thursday night at Klondike ramp. Corvin couldn’t make it, but Sonora came out with me. We started by going to the finish line in St. Charles as its mostly on the way. I have tons of friends from the race and one of them, Jon Marble was about to finish. I was looking forward to welcoming him at the finish line. He had a rough race, having his boat broken half way through. He fixed it and continued on determined to finish the race.

Before he came in, I got a frantic message from his wife, Colleen. She asked me to call her ASAP. I called and got voice mail and called a second time to no avail. I messaged her that the number didn’t work. I gave her my number and she called me. When caller ID showed up, she was off by 1 number. Turns out that her son was in a car accident (not his fault) and she couldn’t make it to the finish line. I assured her that I would drop everything and make sure Jon knew all was safe.

At this point, I contacted JoJo to let her know that I was going to be late and what was going on. JoJo and I planned to hand out Klondike Bars at the Klondike ramp. Since she was off work, she did all the leg work with dry ice and getting the Klondike bars. So she headed to the ramp ahead of me.

Back at the finish line, I  greeted Jon and let him know what was going on. I also managed to perform a live stream of the finish on Facebook so Colleen could watch at the hospital while she waited for results (no serious injuries). It was a bittersweet way to finish the race, but I helped keep them all together!

Jon coming in strong for a finish.

Jon at the finish line.

Once Jon was in and settled, another close friend of his was there to help out. So I headed out to the Klondike ramp to assist paddlers till midnight.

The feel at the ramp was electric. All of the people here are just 27 miles from finishing an epic adventure. This is the last rest/supply before they go on to finish their race!

At the ramp, our job was to help the racers out. Here, you can see JoJo carefully pulling out a boat.

Here are two safety boats. These motorboats often spend the whole week following the race down the river and helping out paddlers that get into trouble.

Time for a quick beverage break. It looks like we moved in with these three chairs, but we are here for a long time 🙂

Once we gave away the last Klondike bar, the only sensible thing to do was pour the dry ice into the river and stand in the fog.

And of course, the race wouldn’t be complete without going back to the finish line on Friday to celebrate a great race!

Here is a 12 person stand up paddle board that finished the race!

Mandy and Di are a force to be reckoned with. They even get their own signs!

One of the coolest things about this race is the any boat and participate as long as its paddled or pedaled. In this case, it was both. Its the first paddle wheel boat I’ve ever seen, and very cool!

If you have never done the race, come out and volunteer, you’ll be hooked!

Hogan Haake

 

 

St. Gen Ride – 7/21/2018

Eric and I met up for an easy Saturday morning motorcycle ride. We decided to meet at an old Blockbuster (now defunct) that he used to work at. There, we would meet his sister Alisa and ride together to St. Genevieve, Missouri for breakfast. Why St. Gen, cause its far away and gives us a place to ride to.

So I’m riding along on the highway doing my own thing and getting over 50 MPG. Suddenly, I’m passed by Eric going much faster. So I kept up with him and followed him all the way to our meeting spot. Why this part of the story is important is because Eric often complains that he doesn’t get that great of fuel economy. He used to get great numbers, but the longer he has had his bike, the worse it gets. When we got to the meeting spot, I was down to just 40 MPG due to keeping up with Eric. I did my best to explain to him that his crazy riding (cause motorcycles are so much fun) is the reason it has gone down!

From Left to right: Eric’s Yamaha FZ-07, Alisa’s Honda CB500, Hogan’s Suzuki V-Strom 650

Once we met up, we had a nice country ride down rural Missouri highways until we got into St. Gen. From there, we headed to a Huddle House. As luck would have it, it was closed for renovations. Eric guided us to a McDonald’s for breakfast. I actually like  McDonald’s, but was looking for some small town food. So I told Eric and Alisa to hang on. I approached a stranger and asked if he knew of a local diner for breakfast that wasn’t a chain. He pointed us to Buddy’s Place Restaurant (585 Ste Genevieve Dr, Ste. Genevieve, MO 63670).

Buddy’s was the perfect small town breakfast. The buffet had more stuff than I should have eaten, but that didn’t stop me! I don’t normally take photos of my food, but this was an exception!

Eventually we parted ways. Eric and I took the ferry across to Illinois and Alisa went back home solo.

Hogan Haake

 

Danelle’s Surprise Birthday Party – 7/7/2018

Danelle has had a few surprise birthday parties for me. They are always a fun time and lots of planning. I think she was a bit surprised when her 40th birthday came and went with little fanfare. Unless you consider sending her to the beach for a week with friends a decent thing.

Anyway, this was the year for her 41st birthday that I would plan a surprise party for her. The idea for the party started with a business trip to Milwaukee, WI for Danelle. She came home raving about a concert at a bar she happened upon. The artist’s name is Pat McCurdy. It was good enough that she purchased a CD of his. We have listened to that CD for almost 10 years now and enjoyed it every time. I thought it might be really cool for her if we made a special trip to see Pat play.

I invited Megan Pagliaro (a lab mate at SLU), and Laura Berlin (one of her roommates from college). Each of those ladies was invited to bring a plus one for a quick weekend to the Wisconsin Dells to see Pat play a concert. It took a bit of planning, but each of the ladies was in. Laura declined a plus one, but Megan brought Leticia Classen Rodriguez as her plus one. No, don’t get excited, they are just good friends!

In order to prevent Danelle from doing anything that weekend, I “planned” an overnight paddle training trip for a race I wasn’t even paddling in to help a friend. Danelle was a little bitter about this plan of mine as I had done lots of paddle training this summer and let me know about it a few times. Additionally, I planned this fictional trip with Andy, but didn’t tell him about it. At one point in the summer before this trip, Danelle asked Andy about our training, but Andy said he couldn’t remember but that we were probably doing something!

The the great morning came, I woke up to go paddling, then rolled over and woke up Danelle. As far as she knew, she was also our shuttle driver and would have to drive us across Missouri early in the morning. I told her I wasn’t paddling, but she had to get up for a trip. She was surprised and relieved that she didn’t have to drive all morning just so I could have fun. Her packing was without complaint other than the fact that I wouldn’t tell her what she was packing for.

When we got in the van, this is where things got interesting. Danelle has an amazing internal GPS. I told her that after we got gas and coffee, that she would play the game where she closed her eyes and had to guess where we were going. I further told her that she would never guess where we were going, a challenge she accepted. So I set off with her not looking as I frantically tried to find the highway. The ramp for I-44 I was planning to use was closed. She figured out pretty quickly where I was and directed me with her eyes shut.

During this time we, chatted about what was going on. She wondered if Laura was part of it, but then decided it was too early in the morning and that Laura would not be up yet. Little did she know that Laura was making all of us home made breakfast biscuit sandwiches. Eventually we got off the highway, parked and walked up to Megan’s house to pick up our first passenger. Danelle started to wonder what was up now.

Next was Leticia’s house and finally when we got off downtown, she realized that Laura was also part of this. Before long, we were headed north towards Wisconsin. The girls were chatting and having a fantastic time, but none of us would tell Danelle where we were going or what we were doing. Eventually each of the girls slept while I drove on (there and back), we have a fairly tight deadline.

We stopped at a sandwich shop for lunch. Its a chain, but one I had never heard of before. I learned that Leticia is a vegetarian and lactose intolerant. Not a good thing for somebody heading to America’s dairy land.

After lunch, we passed a turn off for Chicago, so Danelle started to wonder what was going on. She asked if we were going to the Dells and I said “What are the Dells” which gave it away for her. She didn’t know why we were going there. Its a family place with tons of water parks. I didn’t have her bring anything for swimming, so this confused her further!

Eventually, we got to the White Rose Inn, our hotel for the night. I didn’t know what time the concert would be done, so we needed to check in first before the office closed for the night. After a fast visit to our rooms, we went on to the most important destination of the whole trip, Fawn Creek Winery. There on the door to the winery was a poster for Pat McCurdy that gave Danelle the largest of smiles. She finally knew what we were doing at a random winery 6 hours from home!

At the winery, we got a tour of all the wines and picked the ones we liked the most, then found our seats for the show. I didn’t know what to expect, so I brought two jeans quilts and some chairs. We ended up sitting just off the front of the stage in an unused place because it didn’t have seating till we arrived. We made it ours quickly and got snacks for the show.

In the photo below from left to right: Leticia, Megan, Laura, Danelle

Pat’s concert was a total thing of beauty. I was nervous taking three new people as you never know how people will react to a new musician they have not heard before, but they became fans after the first song!

To get a flavor of Pat’s music, here is a 20 minute clip of part of the concert. A few different pieces.

And most interesting is the audience participation. Pat will ask people from the crowd their name and where they are from, then sing a short song about them. We put him to the test giving him Leticia from San Juan Puerto Rico. He didn’t disappoint!

Of course we highly recommend seeing Pat play if you have the opportunity. He’s a hidden talent that makes everybody smile!

After the concert, there wasn’t anything I could do to top the afternoon’s festivities. So we went back to the motel. The plan was to freshen up for 10 minutes, then hit the town for dinner and exploring.

It didn’t take long before we found lots of fun things to see.

If there is one thing there is too much of in the Dells, its Fudge shops. Seems like there are two on every corner. But we finally found somewhere we could hang out for the evening.

We ended the evening just before 1 am. We promised to be up and ready to head back to St. Louis by 7am. Somehow, Danelle and I woke up just after 5am ready to go. We even got to have a romantic early morning walk before everybody else was up on the river walk.

It was a perfect surprise birthday weekend celebrated with close friends. One Danelle will not likely forget!

Hogan Haake