Deer Hunting 2012

I was fortunate enough to be able to join Best Bud Ed up at his cabin for another deer hunt this year.

It was the last weekend of the season for this area of the state, and (for me) a last minute trip.  I left directly from work, and after a couple of stops I arrived to the cabin around 10pm. In addition to Ed, two of his nephews joined us.  It was one of his nephew’s first trip deer hunting, so Ed really took him under his wing and spent the weekend mentoring him.  We spent some time catching up around the campfire, but since “pre dawn” arrives pretty early – we all hit the sack not long after I arrived.

After a short slumber, we all got geared up and then headed out to our stands in the darkness and chill of the pre dawn hours in the northern Minnesota woods.  We walked along the trails until various “forks” in the path took us to the various deer stands.  It was not long before I found myself walking alone down an ATV trail in the darkness.  I would click on my flashlight momentarily to get a glimpse of the next reflective marker that would lead me through the woods to my stand. Father of Five in the Deerstand

About three quarters of the way to the stand, during one of those “flick on the light”  moments – I scared up the first of four deer I saw this weekend.  Actually this doe started me as much as I startled her.  I stood still as I watched as the tell tale “white tail” flick up, then bound through the woods and into the darkness.

Eventually, I made it out to the deer stand (located in the yellow circle on the map below) where I climbed up, situated myself and my gear, then nodded off until legal hunting hours.

A couple of hours into my vigil of the northern woods, I spotted another deer (the second one of the day) off in the distance walking my way along a ridge line.  It was off to my left, and quite a ways out.  I sat up, focused my attention, readied my gun, and waited.  As the deer drew closer I was able to determine that it was a doe.  I did not have a doe permit but since Minnesota allows for “party hunting” there is an option to take the doe.  That’s when I realized that I had not asked if anyone else had a doe permit – so I set my gun down and decided to simply enjoy the experience.  I watched as the deer came closer and closer, pass behind me, and then I nodded off again.

Over the next couple of hours I saw two more deer. 

The third deer crossed right in front of me, from my right to my left.  This deer was close enough that I was able to immediately identify it as a doe.  So instead of readying my gun, I whipped out my iPod and readied the video camera!  I was amazed how close this deer came to the stand.  I watched as she passed off to my right and towards the same deer trail that the first deer traveled along.  She then continued down the path behind me and out of site.


The fourth deer followed the same path as the third one. 

Same scenario.  I identified the deer as a doe, and grabbed my iPod.

After the forth doe passed, I decided to sit tight and wait.  With that many doe around there is a strong likelihood that there is a  buck somewhere not too far away.  Forty minutes (and no activity) later I packed up my gear and headed back to the cabin to share my experiences (and video) with the rest of the group.

Back at the cabin I also learned that Ed’s youngest nephew (the one he was mentoring this weekend) did have a doe permit.  This being his first hunt, and with the heavy doe population around the cabin, I am glad I didn’t “fill his tag” – and had high hopes he would get his first deer!!

Between the morning and evening hunts, Ed and I ran a couple of errands and stopped off for a nearby GeoCache too!  I also checked out the early ice on the lake!

IMG_2356 IMG_2351 IMG_2346 IMG_2347 IMG_2348 IMG_2352  

Just before sunset, we all headed back out for the evening hunt.  I took up a position at the same deer stand as I did in the morning (yellow circle in the photograph) – unfortunately, I saw no activity.

Ed and his nephew on the other hand, DID see a deer.  Not only did they see a deer, they bagged one.  It was a great lesson for Ed’s nephew – after taking the shot, and waiting patiently (as a good hunter does)they trailed the deer for a bit until it was located.  Ed taught his nephew how to field dress the deer, and they pulled it about half way back to the cabin before Ed’s older nephew and I met them.  He and I then took the deer back to the cabin while Ed and his younger nephew went back to the deer stand to collect their belongings.

Afterwards, we celebrated around the campfire!

Nephew, Best Bud EdBest Bud Ed, and Nephew

The next morning we all got up and once again headed out into the darkness and chill of pre dawn hours in the northern Minnesota woods.  This morning we switched deer stands and I headed off to the stand that Ed and his nephew took the deer from the previous evening (the blue circle on the map).  I sat and watched for any signs. 


After several hours the only thing that I had seen suck up on me from behind.  It was blaze orange and had a big cheesy grin on its face!

Ed had left his stand and met me at my stand.  We located the site where the deer was hit, and (for practice) tracked the path the deer ran to the site where the deer fell.  Ed and I took an off trail path (bushwhacking) through the woods locating another older site that he would like to update with a new stand.

We headed back to the cabin and helped the nephews pack u.  They were heading out a little earlier.  Once the nephews left – Ed and I once again took to the woods.  This time instead of sitting in a stand, we decided to make the HUGE loop you see in the map.  We left the cabin, walked along the trail, then went off trail and “bushwacked” our way around the swamp, to the creek, north along the creek back to the lake and then back down the trail to the cabin.  I had seen many areas of the back woods that I have never seen before. 

There were some breathtaking views!!]

Deer 2012

DeerstandThe rest of day was pretty uneventful. 

We arrived back at the cabin, and loaded up our belongings.  We packed our cars, and then headed out for the final evening hunt.  Once again, Ed took a spot at the yellow circled stand and because I left a number of items at the blue circled stand, I headed back there. 

Once sunset hit, I trudged back to the cabin, loaded up the last of the items that needed packing, and we closed up the cabin for the winter.

After a very relaxing and pleasurable weekend, it was time to say goodbye to Ed, and begin my long journey home.

Turn Your Head and Cough

Until recently, our family was on a high premium / low deductable insurance plan.  A trip to the doctor would set me back $20.00.  The problem with the plan was that the premiums were going up, up, and up.  Last year I took a serious look at the low premium / high deductable plan and after some serious consideration, we switched. 

In a nutshell, my premiums are pretty low (compared to what I was previously paying) but the exchange for that is we pay the first (roughly) five thousand dollars out of pocket.  Completely.  No co-pays, no deductions, nothing.  I pay the FULL amount of the cost of a office visit, urgent care, emergency room, or hospital visit, but thankfully we are allowed annual check ups at no out of pocket expense.  It sounds pretty ominous, but truth be told, the premiums on the other plan cost us more than the maximum out of pocket expense for the current plan.  So far, it has generally worked out for us.

Last week we received a pretty significant medical bill.  It came from our kids’ regular clinic.  The bill covered one office visit, and two check ups – so I assumed there may be some sort of error in the billing.  I talked with the Mother of Five about the various visits – and determined that we did indeed have one office visit (billed), and two check ups (non billed) – and that during one of the check ups a “procedure” was done.  This caused the one “check up” to become an “office visit”.  Considering the fact that an actual procedure was done (equipment and supplies) I was willing to pay for that but the overall bill was still too much.

I called the Medical Billing company.  They could not help but referred me to the insurance company.

I called the insurance company.  They could not help but referred me to the clinic.

I called the clinic.  The office manager could not help me but referred me to someone called a coding specialist.  The coding specialist would be given our case for review and then call us back.  Roughly a week later, the coding specialist did call me back. 

Boy oh boy did I learn a few things. 

What it boiled down to was this.  Yes, a “check up” has no out of pocket expense for the patient, UNLESS you and/or the doctor actually do or say anything other than… well… pretty much ANYTHING.

Want a no out of pocket expense check up?  Go in and keep your yap shut.  Don’t ask any questions, and don’t answer any either.   And if you have anything wrong with you for goodness sake, DO NOT BRING IT UP!  It would seem that a check-up is NOT for discussing your medical health.

The particular patient in question has had an ongoing problem with nasal congestion resulting in a number of sinus infections over the past two years.  Sinus infections that have been treated by the same physician that was doing the annual check up.  During the check up, the physician asked my wife how the sinus infections were going (remember, this was brought up by the physician).  My wife told the physician that there were still some lingering effects, but nothing significant.  The physician then prescribed one more round of meds to hopefully finally free her from what was causing the infections.  The whole interaction with the physician about the sinus infection took less that three minutes.  It was one question asked, one answer given, and one prescription re-issued.  My wife never gave it any thought before, during, or after the exam.

The coding specialist explained to me that the three minute discussion (even though initially brought up by the physician) is what resulted in a $150.00 medical bill.  The act of writing a prescription caused the physician to (and I quote) “make a decision”.  The act of making any sort of decision during a annual physical will result in that office visit getting doubled coded as the “check up” and as an “office visit”.  

Don’t forget folks… This $150.00 is on top of the amount that the insurance company is paying the clinic for the check up.  Just because there is no out of pocket expense for me does not mean the clinic is doing the check up for free.

She also went on to explain to me that it does not even have to be a “procedure”, or a “decision”.  If we even discussed anything about the patient’s health it may result in additional coding (and billing).

During my “lesson” I asked the coder how my wife could have / should have answered the physician's question that would have prevented the bill.  She had no concrete answer.  I asked her why the physician did not stop my wife from answering, or warn her that by answering that one simple question, we would be billed for an office visit.  She had no concrete answer.  I asked her if (in the future) we should simply be deceitful about our health when it comes time for the check ups.  She didn’t say no!  She told me that “I can’t tell you that’s what you should do”.

“Turn your head and cough??”  Nope.  This feels a lot less like a hernia exam and a heckuva lot more like a procto-exam.

Our Home Town – The Introduction

“Our Home Town" is a new series of articles where I will share with you some of the unique aspects of life in our small town of Jordan, Minnesota.  If you are interested, you will be able to access each of the posts in this collection by clicking the "Our Home Town" link in the "Perpetual Posts" group on the sidebar.


Jordan, Minnesota - Our Home Town! Jordan, Minnesota.  It’s where we call home.  We quite frankly “stumbled” into the area.  We were looking to upgrade our house and were pretty much exclusively searching the Farmington / Lakeville areas for pre-existing homes.  It was during the early stages of the housing boom and my brother-in-law was working for a home builder.  On a whim we drove out to where he was building.  That just so happened to be Jordan.

I’ll be honest.  Initially the most intriguing aspect for me was seeing what we could get for our money building a new home in Jordan versus buying a pre-existing home in the Lakeville / Farmington area.  We did a little checking on the schools (noticing they had a Catholic elementary school – a HUGE plus for us) and liked what we were seeing.  After a little discussion (and “what-if’ing” on my part) we took the plunge.  While our house was being built we took many opportunities to visit the construction site and spent time getting to know our new area.

We have been in Jordan for more than 12 years (at the time I am writing this post).  I have come to know and love Jordan as “home” through that time.  From early on it felt right.  The more time I spend in Jordan, the more I love its charm and characteristics.  Jordan like any other city or town is not without its challenges, and skeletons in it’s closets.  While it may not be the perfect place, it feels like a good fit for me and my family!  I have seen many changes throughout the years.  Some for the better and some for the worse – but they all add up to give Jordan it’s unique flavor and character.

Before I delve into the unique flavors and characters of Jordan (i.e. future posts), I’ll educate you with some of the cold, hard, and raw facts.

Jordan, Minnesota (via Google Maps) The City of Jordan is made up of 2.6 square miles located 42 miles Southwest of St. Paul (the capitol of Minnesota).  It is located along the hills and bluffs of western Scott County and is nestled between Spring Lake and St. Lawrence Townships.  Jordan is just south of the Minnesota River (which is the natural boundary between Scott and Carver Counties).     

According to the US Census in 2000 (one year after we moved here) there were 3833 residents living in Jordan.  The 2010 US Census reported 5470 residents. 

Highway 169 cuts through the middle of our town.  It also meets up with Highway 9 / 282.  Highway 282 also crosses Highway 21.  There is almost a triangle of highways that cut through our town.  We have two stoplights.  One at 169 / 9 (282), and the other at the intersection of 282 / 21.

We have two rail lines that run through town.  The Chicago-Northwestern on the northern edge of town that runs along highway 169 and Minnesota Prairie Line that runs through the heart of our downtown.

One thing is certain!  We have a rich and colorful history, and a number of landmarks, destinations, shops, and amenities – both civically and privately owned.  Too many to mention in this brief introduction. 

Over the next several months – I hope to build on the “Our Home Town” series by highlighting one of the many unique and wonderful aspects of living or maybe highlighting a specific item of interest within Jordan.  

The goal is build an extensive collection of posts that share what I love about living here!

Another Midnight Release

It was one year ago (well, an year and two days) on 11-11-11 that madness broke out at midnight.  This was the release of the eagerly awaited Xbox360 game that #2 of 5 had previously reserved a copy of.  We waited in an hour long line (at 28 degrees) for his copy of Skyrim (The Elder Scrolls V).

Call_of_Duty_Black_Ops_II_Game_Cover November must be the month for video game releases (anticipated Christmas sales?) – because last night on 11-13-12 the eagerly awaited Xbox360 game Call of Duty - Black Ops II that #3 of 5 had previously reserved a copy of was scheduled for release.  Since I had done it for #2 of 5, I felt I should do it for #3 of 5 too.

I had very little sleep the night before, and had to be up by 4:45 am the next morning.  I was actually looking forward to going to bed a little early when #3 of 5 arrived home from school, and it hit me (like a ton of bricks).  Today was the day.  Tonight was the midnight release of the Call of Duty game that #3 of 5 was so eagerly awaiting.  Technically, the release date was 11-13-12 – but the “midnight release” meant that we would have to line up and wait on 11-12-12.  I was very grateful when the Mother of Five actually suggested I lay down and take a nap beforehand.

Since he was using gift cards from games he previously sold back to pay for tonight’s purchase we were pretty much stuck going to one of the larger national chain stores (Gamestop) nearby.  It’s not that I don’t like Gamestop – I actually do, but we have a similar business (HighScore) that is locally owned and half the distance away.  Their store is fun to visit, and they also have some fabulous customer service!  So I was saddened when I woke from my nap and noticed that HighScore updated their facebook page with an announcement that they would be providing free pizza and a Monster for the customers in their line.  

Black Ops 2 midnight releaseWe headed out by 9:15pm and arrived at the store at 9:30pm.  #3 of 5 paid his balance and was given his spot in line.  #10-4 (group 10, customer 4) – this made him #104 in line because each group had 10 customers.  For the next 45 minutes we lingered in the store.  I played on the new Wii U controller, Unchartered, and some Gran Turismo and browsed around the used game area.

Behind the counter were stacks and stacks of the game, in Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii platforms.  There was also the deluxe collectors edition, and the “Pièce de résistance” – The Call of Duty Black Ops “Care Package”.  (Those suitcase like objects)


Black Ops 2 midnight release  Black Ops 2 midnight release

Throughout this year’s experience I noticed a couple of things.  One very similar, and one polar opposite from last year’s event.

Similar to last year, the crowd “demographic” remained remarkably unchanged.

- Predominantly male (while borderline crude, to call it a “sausage fest” would not be an exaggeration)
- 16-25 years old
- “I still live in my parent’s basement” (Need I say more?)
- A fair amount of acne. (Too busy gaming to worry about hygiene.)
- Goth, emo, skater, or just plain unkempt (hobo like) appearance.
- A large representation from extreme ends of the “body frame bell curve” (“emaciated” or “corpulent”)
- Black clothing (skinny jeans, trench coats, Converse All-Stars, etc)
- Body piercings
- Overly caffeinated bravado and machismo. (Not sure why, see first observation)
- Extreme braggardly, theatric and exaggerated stories, jokes, and tales told from their tremendous base of knowledge and life experiences.

But, unlike last year’s “gaming grandma”, I experienced the opposite end of the age spectrum this year.

A toddler, her “Teen Mom”, and her mother’s friend were also in the store waiting for the midnight release.  I mean a toddler?  Really??  I won’t lie.  I was, quite honestly, a little relieved when I saw them leaving around 10pm. 

I was hopeful that the little girl would soon be tucked into her own warm and cozy little bed, surrounded by her dolls and stuffed animals.  My hopes were dashed when the trio returned shortly thereafter.  It would seem that they did not head home, instead they headed to the nearby convenience store to load up on sugar and caffeine. 

 Toddler drinking Mountain Dew Toddler drinking Mountain Dew Toddler drinking Mountain Dew 

Yup folks, that is a toddler drinking sucking down her very own 20oz bottle of Mountain Dew “White Out”, just before midnight…  But don’t worry.  I overheard her mother say she got a nap earlier in the day, so it’s all ok, right?

IMG_2304Black Ops 2 midnight releaseOnce 11pm rolled around, the store staff kicked everyone out into the harsh Minnesota cold.  They helped collect and gather the “groups of 10” (#1 - #20) into a semblance of a line, and the waiting began. 

It was cold out.  Seven degrees colder than last year!  It was 21 degrees with a wind chill of 11 degrees.  Most folks were bundled up quite nicely – but others were just wearing street clothing – and even a few (at least two) were wearing SHORTS!!??!?   

Knowing I had a full hour to go yet, I (like Mountain Dew Girl’s mother) also ran to the nearby convenience store.  I filled my tank with gas, and grabbed two hot chocolates.  We enjoyed the hot chocolate as we patiently waited our turn trying to keep warm. 

I enjoyed the “people watching” factor of waiting in line.  I listed to all the caffeine fueled “smack talk” – dudes exaggerating their “skills” and “experiences” in various video games, other guys calling them out on their stores, then turning and telling a “yarn” of their own.  Listening to packs of 17-25 year old males is quite entertaining!

The time arrived.  Midnight.  The first group of ten were let in the store.  Then the next group, and the next group.  Finally, it was time for Group #10 – Our group!  #3 of 5 headed into the store, and quickly exited with his loot in hand. 

Oh yeah…  One other little “observation”.  Want to know who bought one of those “care packages” (besides the guy in the video)? 

Yup!  Mountain Dew girl’s Teen Mom did!  She dropped almost 200 bucks for the “care package”.  Want to know how I know?  Because while we were still waiting in line, she held her care package above her head and made an theatrical announcement (laughing quite unashamedly) that she would be willing to trade her (almost $200.00) “Care Package” for anyone who get her keys out of her locked car…  (sigh)

On the way home I told #3 of 5 that this was my last rodeo.  I did it for #2 of 5, and now I did it for him.  By this time next year either one or both of these boys will be drivers and they can transport and attend their their own midnight video game releases in the future!

(YEAH!!!  I’m off the hook!!)

At least I can say I have done it… Twice!

The Start of Something New (and hopefully great!)

The problem with maintaining a blog for 6+ years is that you start to run out of new and fresh ideas.  When the kids were younger there was plenty of things they did, said, and / or got into that would inspire the creativity inside me.   As the kids got older, a lot of the things they did and said had already been talked about.  Then, even a little further down the road and kids got wind that many of their antics became blog-fodder.  At this point they could (and did) voice their displeasure with my use of their lives as content – eliminating even more inspiration for “The Life of a Father of Five”.

I don’t know how, when or why I ever had the notion that as the kids got older that my life would get easier, but somewhere along the way I did.  That factoid, my dear readers, is a misnomer.  As these kids get older, it’s even more difficult to find time to dedicate to maintaining something as frivolous as a website.

It is a recipe for killing creativity.

When I do get inspired with an idea it’s pretty rare that I can take the time to begin the creative process.  When the time comes that I finally do have some time, I have lost all inspiration.  Sometimes, I have time to start a post, but never get around to finishing it, having lost interest.  I also have an “incomplete” series of posts that I am struggling (internally) with posting. 

I need / want something more.  Something a little less controversial.  Something a little more creative.  Something new, fresh, and fun!  Something to add a little “pop” to “The Life of a Father of Five”.

Recently, I was mildly inspired by a singular idea, but as I developed that idea in my mind, it began to expand.  If I do “this” post, why not do “that” post.  If I do “that” post, why not “another” post?  Ideas came to me one after the other.  In fact, the ideas came so fast, it was almost overwhelming.  The more these loosely related ideas came to mind the more I noticed the thread between them strengthened and how easy it was to “stitch” them all together!  I put the idea(s) on the back burner (see “not enough time to dedicate” above) and focused more on the concept of these posts as a series.

It’s time has come. 

I am feeling inspired again.  It is time to take that simmering pot on the back burner, move it to the front burner and start a rolling boil.  I hope to introduce to you and the world my new concept in the next few days! 

Wish me luck!    

My Faith in Humanity Was Restored... Almost

Halloween and all its associated hoopla and hype had wound down.  The Mother of Five and I had taken #4 of 5 (and her friend) along with #5 of 5 on a whirlwind tour of our neighborhood, filling their pillowcases with as much Halloween treats as they could muster to carry.  About three-fourths of the way around the neighborhood #5 of 5 had her fill, so the Mother of Five and #5 of 5 took the “short cut” home while I tagged along with #4 of 5 (and her friend) as they finished off the neighborhood.

When we arrived back at our house the Mother of Five and #5 of 5 were attending the fire bowl set up in the driveway as the treat-giveaway area.  When #4 of 5 (and her friend) arrived home, they quickly ran into the house to take a look at the loot they gathered.  #5 of 5 ran inside to join them.  The Mother of Five and I sat around the fire bowl visiting and handing out treats to the now dwindling numbers of trick-or-treaters.  After 15-20 minutes, the Mother of Five headed in.  I wanted to finish my cigar, and let the fire burn itself down a little, so I remained at the bowl handing out treats.

It was getting late now, maybe 8:30 or so (late for trick-or-treating).  There were not too many more trick-or-treaters, but that was ok.  I watched as our supply of treats dwindled down.  With only 4 more treats to give out and only one group of three on the horizon, I began packing up the chairs, putting the pumpkins back to their rightful place by our doorstep, and handing that last group of three out their treats.  I then extinguished the fire in the fire bowl and was cleaning up the last of my mess when out of the corner of my eye I noticed three young children coming out of the darkness and across my yard towards me.  The first of this group?  A young lady not more than 8 or 9 years old dressed as a princess.  She was ahead of two boys who were still just crossing into my yard when this conversation took place (actual conversation – not embellished).

FOF:  “Happy Halloween!!  Bad news though, I only have one left to give out.”
Little Girl:  “Ooo!!  I want it!!  I’ll take it!!”
FOF:  “Ok, here ya go!  (putting treat in treat bag, then turning to the two boys) Sorry guys, but ladies first, right?“

Then the little girl took off running behind me.  As she reached my patio, turned to the little boys and said…

Little Girl;  “Hey (name of little boy) do you want this?  I’ll give it to you if you do!”
FOF:  “Wow!  I am so impressed!  That has to be the nicest gesture I have seen all night!”
Little Girl:  “It’s ok.  It was pretzels.  Pretzels suck anyway.”
FOF:  (silence)
Little Girls Brother:  “No way.“

Then, the three final trick-or-treaters of the night ran off to the next house.

Hopefully they got something a little less “sucky”.

It’s Done

1968 Chrysler boatAfter a lengthy bit of trial and error, two price drops, a couple of attempted scams on Craigslist, and a “no call, no show” potential buyer – the END OF AN ERA (link to a post titled the same) has finally come to fruition. 

While I am saddened to see this little bit of our family’s history go, I am happy to report that the new owners are a truly WONDERFUL family, and I have NO DOUBTS that they and their children will soon be making memories of their own with the boat!!

Good bye boat.  Thanks for the memories!  May your enjoy many safe and enjoyable journeys with your new owners! 

Brownie Bake-Off

Boy Scout Brownie Bake-Off


Tonight was Boy Scout Troop 332’s second annual Brownie Bake-Off!

The boys split the troop up into three groups.  Each group was required to bake a batch of brownies and the troop (and some “adult volunteers” judged the batches for taste and presentation.





Boy Scout Brownie Bake-Off


Left to right:  Cheesecake Brownie, Carmel Brownie, and Double Fudge Brownie.

When the votes were tallied, the winners of the best tasting brownies were…

6 votes Double Fudge, 5 Votes Carmel, and 3 votes Cheesecake.  (My Vote was the Carmel)

Fear not Cheesecake Brownie fans!!  You won first place for presentation!


Tonight on my way home from work, while traveling down Highway 169 over the Minnesota River Bridge – I pulled up behind a truck pulling a fifth wheel trailer. 

Upon that trailer was one of the oddest things I have ever seen.  Three GIANT sized concrete animals…  A panda bear, some sort of hedgehog / muskrat / possum like thingie, and a much smaller unidentifiable creature.

The coloring, texture, truly massive size of these objects, and the fact that the panda was staring me down gave me the heebee-jeebees; especially when I pulled along side of them. 

Believe me, these photos do NOT do the scene justice…   

Does anyone living in or around the Twin Cites have ANY idea what these things are for or where they are headed?? 

GIANT concrete animals GIANT concrete animals GIANT concrete animals GIANT concrete animals

FOF Observation #26

The "FOF Observations" are a series of "Perpetual Posts" where I will share with you, my readers, short little observations that I have made (or will be making) on being the father of a large family. You will be able to access each of the posts in a cohesive list by clicking on the "FOF Observations" link in the "Perpetual Posts" group on the sidebar.

Digital Thermometer Today #4 of 5 was home sick.  In the middle of the day the Mother of Five called home to check in on our sick little one.  She asked if I took her temperature yet - (sounds of crickets chirping). 

Ok, ok, ok.  Once again I am out of the running for “parent of the year”.

After completing the conversation with the Mother of Five, I went a searchin’ for the thermometer, and as luck (and a little bit of Murphy’s Law) would dictate – that little thing was NOWHERE to be found.  Oh, I DID find the little clear case, but the actual thermometer was eluding me. 

I called the Mother of Five back and asked her if she knew were it was.  I tried the list of locations she provided me with no luck.  Her last resort?  Run to the store and buy another one. 

Dads… Are you out there?  Am I alone in my frustration with the phrase “just buy another one”??? 

So, here is my “Observation” for you.


If you are you a parent… 

If you are you going to be a parent soon… 

If you are even CONSIDERING becoming a parent one day…  

Let me make a suggestion for you…  (Consider it a tip from one dad to another)  Invest your money in whoever makes these things.  I can not even begin to count how many we have bought and lost over the years.   (No exaggeration – I bet at least ten!)   

Firearm Safety Certificate – Part Trois – – – (aka - Annie Oakley)

Firearm Safety CertificateLike her brother, and then another brother and father did before her, #4 of 5 has joined the ranks of the cast and crew of The Life of a Father of Five who have successfully completed the Minnesota State Firearm Safety Program, and obtained her Minnesota Firearm Safety Certificate

Twice a week for the past two weeks (plus the practical exam this morning) #4 of 5 has sat through the required classes learning about various types of firearms and how to respect them.  She was instructed on how to handle a firearm safely, and how to identify unsafe firearm handling.  As a bonus, the kids are given a introduction to natural resource management, and a heaping helping of hunting ethics. 

As it has in the previous years, several members of the Fish Lake Sportsman’s Club volunteered their time to help further the cause of teaching the youth of our community these important lessons.  Jeff, Tim, Lance, and Shawn.  I can not thank them enough for the service they provide our community! 

Since I have covered the program two times previously there is not much more to say about… 

Whoa!!  Hold up there just a minute.  Not much more to say??  It wouldn't be a Father of Five post without SOME sort of unexpected turn of events, now would it??

I was at work when The Mother of Five took #4 of 5 to her final practical exam.  Around the time I expected them to be done, I got a text message.  It came from my wife’s phone. 

It said…  “Hey Dad… Guess what?

Fully expecting to hear that she passed the test I played along, sending a “What?” in reply.

The next message caught me off guard…  “I’m a LEFTY

Lefty, I asked myself??  I guess I was not all that surprised.  A number of times over the past two weeks I had #4 of 5 do several tests to determine her “dominant eye”.  Each time they came up “left eye dominant” – but each time I had her shoulder a gun, she instinctively shouldered it right handed.

Well, it came time for her to do some actual shooting this morning.  She shouldered the gun and took her shots and missed EVERY SINGLE ONE!  One of the instructors was watching her shoot – and took notice of her trying to shoot left eye dominant while shouldering right handed.  Having been one of #3 of 5’s  assistant coaches on the trap shooting team (and remembering that they are siblings) he re-loaded the gun and asked her to shoot again – this time LEFT handed.  She put all but two of her rounds on the target shooting left handed!  

(Yes, in these photos she is holding the gun “right handed” – but they were staged photos – and I think she is instinctively going to tend towards shooting right handed (she is right handed for most everything else) – I guess that just means dad will have to take her out to the trap range and get some extra shooting practice in while she develops the left handed shooter muscle memory!! )

#4 of 5 after getting her Minnesota State Firearm Safety Certificate! Gee… Darn… It’s going to be a tough job, but dag nabbit – SOMEONE has to take her out shooting.  It’s in her best interest!  Right??  RIGHT?!? 

Come on – someone help me out here!  

With the successful completion of the practical exam, and last week's 94% written exam - I'd like to welcome #4 of 5 to the world of safe firearm handling!!

Next stop (still a few years out), the Jordan High School Trap Shooting team?!?!?  (fingers crossed)



Congratulations sweetie!!  I am so proud of you!  You are becoming such a great young lady!!

International GeoCaching Day - 2012

Most of you know it by now…  I enjoy GeoCaching.  It’s an opportunity for me to get up and enjoy the great outdoors (something I enjoy doing, but struggle to find the time to do).  It’s much less of a time commitment than loading up the canoe, or packing up for a camping trip – and is a little more focused (with a destination and a goal) than simply going for a walk.  Plus, getting to use the GPS really tickles the “gadget guy” gene in me. 

Honestly, it’s almost the perfect activity in my book.  A little bit of many of the things I enjoy doing!!  

Earlier this year I noticed an announcement on Latitude 47 (the official blog) announcing the impending Second Annual International GeoCaching Day on August 18th, 2012.

I had not been out GeoCaching much this summer and when I checked my calendar I noticed that I was not scheduled for work that day!  It was a lock!  I added it to my calendar and began planning a family GeoCaching adventure!  (Unfortunately, the Mother of Five and #2 of 5 had to work – but I made plans for everyone that was going to be around that day.

igd2012a The first thing I wanted to do was find a suitable area to cache.  I wanted find a place that was not to far, but had a high enough concentration of GeoCaches that I could “up” my statistics a little bit!  That’s when I remembered something!!  While checking for GeoCaches along the route of our Minnesota River Canoe Trip earlier this year I stumbled upon an “anomaly”.  The anomaly was a high concentration of GeoCaches in an area known to me to be pretty “rural” (farmland).

I did a little research and discovered that this area (of high GeoCache concentration) is not farmland, but it’s the Ney Nature Center!  It was the first I heard of the place.  I did a little further checking and really liked what I found.  I placed it in the back of my mind as a future destination.  It was the PERFECT place for our International GeoCaching Day adventure!

When International GeoCaching day arrived – I packed a picnic (turkey sandwiches, loaded baked potato Pringles, Trail Mix, and High-C drink boxes), gathered a few misc items that would make the day a little easier, and perhaps a little more fun for all (GPS, FRS radios, and a camera) and we headed out!! 

Mmmm!!  Turkey Sammiches!! GeoCaching - Some Tools of the Trade! 

Destination Neys Nature Center!! 

Ney Nature Center - Well Pump at the Nature CenterAbout twenty minutes later we arrived at Neys.  We pulled up to the Ney Center and did a little poking around to try and acclimate ourselves with the surroundings.  I noticed a Cub Scout Den that was breaking camp near the visitor center. 

There were a number of “outbuildings” (barns, corn cribs, storage sheds, etc – all presumably from when this was a working farmstead), a hand operated well-pump (also presumably from when this was a working farmstead), a campfire ring, and the Visitor Center (which was closed that day). 

My GPS indicated that the caches were located in areas other than the visitor center.  We located an information kiosk (with maps of the Center) and got a better idea of where we needed to go.  We headed back to the car and drove to the “Farmstead” area of the Nature Center.

Right away the GPS locked on to the nearest GeoCache and we were on our way! 

They Ney Nature Center is an AMAZING place!!  It features several features of the Minnesota landscape.  In addition to the historic farmstead there are areas of native prairie grasses, remnants of the big woods (woodlands), a large wetland, several reforestation plots, a wooded ravine with natural streams, and the historic Oxcart Trail.  Throughout these areas are pre established trails Don’s Pond Loop Trail, the Ravine Trail, the Native Prarie Walk, the Oxcart Trail, and the Hidden Windmill Trail.  The Trails are mowed and marked with signs and maps to help you navigate the Nature Center! 

Ney Nature Center - Mowed Trail in the Prairie Grass area  Ney Nature Center - Spot the GeoBeacon??  Ney Nature Center - Trail between the Ravine and the Prairie Grasslands  Ney Nature Center - Closed Trail

Top row L to R:  #5 of 5 blowing a dandelion – Can you spot the GeoBeacon in the photo?

Bottom row L to R:  Example of a mowed trail between the ravine area (on the left) and the prairie grass area (on the right) – TRAIL CLOSED??  There is a GeoCache a little over 400 feet down that trail – Sorry folks, that sign did NOT stop me!! 

Ney Nature Center - GeoCaching!



Note – Here is the GeoCache located in the “Closed Trail”. 

Out of respect we did find the cache (down the closed trail) but we did head right back out and off the closed trail… 

I may be civilly disobedient at times, but I can also be respectful when doing so!




Ney Nature Center - The Ney Farmstead



After a few caches we headed back to the car to grab our cooler and lunch – then headed into a shady spot on the farmstead to have lunch and take a little rest. 

If you look close enough in the photo – you ca see a little white speck under the trees in the right side of the photo.  That’s were the kids sat down while I grabbed lunch!



I was just "resting my eyes"!



I did say “rest” didn’t I??

I actually dosed off while the kids finished their lunch. 

Sneaky #4 of 5 thought it would be funny to catch her daddy sleeping in photographic form.




After lunch and a short little nap, we headed back down the trail for a few more Geocaches.

As we approached the trailhead from the Farmstead, we learned a little more history about the Neys Nature Center.   

Ney Nature Center - Wilhelm Ney Memorial Ney Nature Center - Wilhelm Ney MemorialNey Nature Center - Henry and Mathilda Ney Farmhouse built in 1895 Ney Nature Center - Henry ANd Mathilda Ney Farmhouse built in 1895Ney Nature Center - Henry and Mathilda Ney Farmhouse - The Summer Kitchen - built 1898 Ney Nature Center - The barn that I believe may have been the original Log Cabin when the Ney's first homesteaded on this land.

Another unique feature of the Nyes Nature Center is the Oxcart Trail

This historic road is believed to have been a part of the system of Red River Oxcart Trails. It is believed to have been first used by Native Americans who camped along the top of the hill each fall as a foot trail.  It’s use expanded as it became used by traders and early explorers.

In addition to being an oxcart trail it also became a portion of one of the local stagecoach runs, then it was used as a county road for many years.  Later, the road was turned over to Tyrone township.  Along the portion of the Oxcart Trail in the Ney Nature Center we located the remains of the Stagecoach stop. 

In the photo you can see the two remaining walls of the Stagecoach stop building.   

Ney Nature Center -  Stagecoach stop on the Oxcart Trail Ney Nature Center - Stagecoach Stop on the Oxcart Trail

A little further down the Oxcart Trail is a scenic overlook.  At the edge of the overlook is a flagstone ring.  The photos do not do the view justice.  It was simply and amazingly beautiful!  I did not get it captured in the photos, but way off in the distance, along the opposite side of the river valley, was a bright white colored church steeple poking out of the lush green of the river valley – it was very pretty!!

Interesting facts about the Minnesota River Valley – The valley itself is as large as five miles across and 250 feet deep in it’s widest and deepest zones.  It was cut by the River Warren which flowed from the Glacial Lake Agassiz through the Traverse Gap (a gorge cut from water over spilling the southern end of Glacial Lake Agassiz when the Laurentide Ice Sheet began melting).

 Ney Nature Center - The kids at the scenic overlook Ney Nature Center - The flagstone ring at the scenic overlook

Ney Nature Center - The kids with the scenic overlook behind them.  This photo does not do the scene justice! 

igd2012We had a great afternoon!  Neys Nature Center was an AMAZING place, and we will be certain to return there again soon!!  The weather was perfect.  We found all but one of the GeoCaches we looked for.  The picnic lunch (and nap) were rejuvenating, and spending time with these great kids is never anything less than a ton of fun!!

Here you can see the “after” photo once I entered all my GeoCaching finds on  (The yellow “smileys” are caches I have found.  The green “ammo boxes” are caches I have not yet found).  You can see that there are still plenty of opportunities for GeoCaching during future visits to Ney’s Nature Center!  



Ney Nature Center - End of the day

If you are interested in seeing our trek (or at least the GPS data played out in time lapse over a map overlay) be sure to click through THIS LINK to the EveryTrail site.

On a side note… About a week after International GeoCaching Day had occurred, GroundSpeak (the parent company of sent out this message on Latitude 47.   


International Geocaching Day Success

You did it! You made International Geocaching Day the biggest day in history. More than 94,000 geocachers from around the world charged into the wilderness or perhaps walked casually down the sidewalk to find a geocache on August 18. A souvenir for the day could be earned by logging a “Found it” for a physical geocache or an “Attended” on an Event Cache. Thank you to all those cachers who organized the more than 250 events, including 3 Mega-Events, on International Geocaching Day this year.

International Geocaching Day is the third Saturday of August each year. Next year it will be commemorated on August 17, 2013

Did you reach the Bottom of this blog?

If you have read down to here and are interested in reading more, be sure to click here, click on the "Older Posts" link to your right, or use the "Archive" tool on the right sidebar. Thanks for visiting!