Garden Update: 05.27.24

I wanted to get a Garden Update in before heading out on vacation in a few days, as the yard looks good and the garden is mostly void of weeds (though there absolutely are some…). It’s in pretty good shape so far, and hopefully we keep getting rain while we’re gone!

Speaking of which, in the past few weeks, we’ve had at least 15″ of rain, I’d hazard to guess? We had about 8″ a few weeks ago, but each week since, we’ve had a steady 1-2″ fall here and there, usually in at least 0.5″ increments. This is a far cry from last year, where we barely had any rain to speak of. I did water the garden late last week, but even while we were gone over this past weekend, we had 1.5″ fall randomly. Off to a good start!

Brooke planted kale and spinach over a month ago, and obviously the kale is doing well. The spinach has come in and is doing fine, but only a few of the seeds actually sprouted, yielding a somewhat random looking row. Still, we should have plenty by the time we return from our vacation.

The bean plants are mostly up, as well. A mix of green beans and black beans, we usually end up with a pretty solid number of pods, so we expect those plants to be quite a bit larger by the time we return.

Our family friend, Rich, yet again came through and supplied us with tomato plants, most of which came up looking great. One or two unfortunately didn’t make it, so Brooke “borrowed” a few plants from a co-worker who didn’t need them and supplemented our supply. We still have a few jugs covering the plants, but most of them have been removed because they’re plenty big.

The pepper plants all look great, too! We expect a few of those to die off, as we tend to have “hit or miss” luck with bell peppers. They’re pretty tightly packed in there right now, so if they all survive, I’m curious as to how they’ll handle the proximity to one another. Usually, we separate them out quite a bit. Not this time! Living dangerously.

Aunt Marie also came through with a ton of sweet potato plants, pictured in the upper right portion. The mounds in the foreground are a mix of zucchini and cucumbers. The zucchini seem like they always produce, but the cucumbers are more “hit and miss,” so again, curious to see how that will go.

This plot also features corn and soup beans around the edges, but those were planted relatively recently and aren’t up yet. We haven’t planted sweet corn since……Iowa? Maybe? It’s been a long time! The goal is to train the soup beans to coil around the cornstalks, but we’ll see if we even get that far.

Brooke planted carrots and potatoes in the above ground bags, but only the potatoes are doing anything. There are a few, solitary, carrots growing in there, but frankly, those are cheap enough that I’m not going to be all that broken hearted if we don’t get anything. We haven’t tried growing legit potatoes in a long time, either, so we’re intrigued to see how that turns out!

The strawberry yield this year has been…..fine? As in, we’ve gotten bowls like that shown below, but they came in quite a bit earlier than usual (on account of spring starting in, like, late-February this year?), and many of them were smaller, and somewhat “mushier” than we’ve had in the past. Whether that’s the weather or the age of the plants, who can say.

Still, we definitely got some solid bowl-fuls of them like this one. If I were going to guess, I’d say we got at least 4 or 5 of these amounts during their main productive period? Brooke made some strawberry ice cream with one batch of them that turned out really well! Apparently getting strawberries in the right consistency for ice cream isn’t a trivial matter, but you’ll have to ask Brooke about how she did it. I just ate it, and it was good. 🙂

Lastly, the cherries. Ahhhhhh, the cherry tree. The tree itself looks good! (…unlike the almond, peach, and pear trees….all of which are gone now…) We had a lot of flowers on there earlier, but there was a pretty good frost around that same time, so we think a lot of the cherries were taken out back then, leaving us only a handful to make it to now.

Luckily, the remaining cherries were ready to pick just before heading out for vacation. Here’s our sad little bucket of them, but bear in mind that we actually had twice this amount on the tree: it’s just that Brooke and Calvin ate the other half as they were picking them!

It’s Brooke’s birthday, though, so it’s cool. She earned it. 🙂

Thawing out

Clearly it’s been a minute since I updated anything on here, and as usual, it takes some outdoor work to get me to post anything. It is what it is!

January got really cold. We actually had snow on the ground for over a week because the temperatures didn’t go above freezing for at least that long. It was kind of nice having some cold days, after November and December were unseasonably warm, but timing could have been better. The kids and I were all off our school routines for a few weeks to the point where Meg and Calvin haven’t had school on a Monday yet in 2024. Some of that was for planned reasons (MLK, teacher PD day…), but others were treacherous weather conditions. Last week, I finally got 5 full days of class in and it was rather exhausting, though I’m happy to get things more back to normal.

To that end, it’s sap collecting season! Again, the weather has been a bit hit-or-miss for sap, as it hasn’t been cold at night and warm during the day: instead, it’s either just cold, or just warm, and we haven’t really gotten the “swings” we need to for most efficient sap flow. Brooke tapped the trees over a week ago and we had maybe 15 gallons collected. The weather was pretty nice (high 56 F) yesterday, so it was the ideal time to get outside after the extended freezing period and keep a fire going for most of the day. Given all the precipitation we’ve had in January, we weren’t entirely sure how the firewood at our neighbor’s house would do, as it’s been left uncovered, but we got it going.

Brooke also got into the bees, as we’ve noticed them being active in the warmer weather. As we have come to expect each Spring, unfortunately, our bees from last Summer didn’t make it. There was a lot of honey in there, so we know they didn’t starve: we think their numbers just weren’t high enough to survive the extreme cold we had. Brooke treated them and fed them back in November, so this is the most effort she’s put into helping them through the Winter, yet it wasn’t meant to be. I think she’ll order packages from a different vendor this year and put the honey back in that she collected from the hives yesterday, hopefully helping out the new tenants when they move in around April or May.

In other relatively big news, we’re down a few fruit trees. We planted them in September 2016 and, in some ways, they were successful. We had a few good years of peaches, though last year, they never seemed to ripen (which is a shame because the Japanese beetle issue was lessened last year, so we may have had a lot of peaches….but alas…). The dwarf pear trees, however, never really did much. Sure, they “grew pears,” but they would rot on the branches and never fall. We would collect a few, but they didn’t have much flavor and we’d just add them to cider.

In the end, the peach tree, especially, was more of a hassle than it was worth. It was big and hard to mow around, and peaches that would fall would ferment and attract bugs (and wouldn’t smell great). The pears also weren’t really producing, and if anything, the pears and peaches were encroaching on the cherry and apple trees, and we do get something off of those.

So yes, we killed some trees. The wood should be good for Oktoberfest in the Fall, so it’ll sit, drying, until we’re ready to use it. We haven’t decided if we’ll plant anything else out there just yet, but knowing Brooke, she always has ideas about yet another garden plot. I know she’s been eyeing fresh cut flowers, especially out near the bees, so maybe that’ll be next on the list.

It was good to get outside, though! We still have a few weeks of Winter left, but Punxutawney Phil has given us hope.

Maple Syrup 2023

First of all, apologies for taking awhile between posts! Christmas Break went generally well and we haven’t really had any snow days, so didn’t have much to say, to be honest (kids are fine, school is moving along, etc., etc.). However, now that we’re on the other side of maple syrup season, it was time to try out the new fire pit Brooke constructed last Fall.

Over the past few years, we’ve been relying primarily on propane to boil down the sap collected from the maple trees in our yard, but we wanted to try not burning fossil fuels in the process of making our own syrup (seemed somewhat antithetical). The weather has been remarkably good these past few weekends, so we had a few chances to burn some of the firewood we’ve collected from trimming trees in the yard.

Brooke picked up a few serving platters last Summer, partially for Oktoberfest and other hosting duties, but also to help add some surface area to the boiling vessels, hopefully boiling off sap more efficiently. It largely worked, and we were able to burn down sap relatively quickly! …..once the fire got started… Both days, it took a lot longer to get a fire going than we expected, meaning we didn’t really get started with the process until the afternoon.

Again, the weather was so pleasant, it was a nice reprieve from a normal February (though the implications of warmer and warmer Winters is terrifying for a host of other reasons). Still, sitting outside with a beer and a fire isn’t a bad way to spend a weekend.

Brooke also took a hacksaw to the gourds she grew this Summer. Most of them have been inside in our basement drying out, though she left a few outside…because frankly we didn’t notice them, so they’ve just been hanging out? She cut the tops off and ended up with some hollow gourds! The plan is to cut up some of the others and make bowls eventually, but she kind of tested the process this weekend. More on that in the future!

Brooke spent a few hours today refining the sap, heating it to the correct temperature (she plugged info into an online calculator this time, taking atmospheric pressure into account to target the correct boiling point, while not crystallizing the syrup). She ended up with just under 2 gallons, which is better than the 1.13 gallons we got last year. We still ended up going through almost two propane tanks, and more firewood, so again, was it worth it? Dunno.

But I got to have a few beers next to a fire in February. Not too shabby.

Sorghum Extract

In keeping with hair-brained ideas of what to grow in our garden, and maintaining our theme of producing “sweet things” (i.e. honey and maple syrup), Brooke decided to try growing sorghum. She’d read that the stalks of the sorghum could be ground up using a relatively cheap, electric wood chipper, and then she thought we could use the apple cider press we already had to squeeze the sorghum to juice it.

First of all, Brooke set aside Sunday to harvest the two rows of sorghum she grew. It did a good job “training” the soup beans to climb the stalks, so that kept the vines out of the yard this year. Brooke had to untangle some of that a bit in order to cut the stalks down, then we removed the tassels from the top and the leaves, as those aren’t necessary to get the sorghum goo out (it probably has a technical name, but I’m too lazy to look it up. “Goo,” it is.).

I tossed the leaves back onto the garden plot to let them decompose there, hopefully returning some nutrients back to the soil. We ended up with a decent number of stalks! It’s a bit tough to gather how many more we need in order to make more of the end product but, well….we’ll get there…

The wood chipper we picked up from Harbor Freight did a good job! I haven’t been happy with it for chipping sticks and leaves, as the opening at the top is very narrow (for safety reasons), making it annoying to get wide sticks that have fallen with leaves on them into the thing. For this purpose though, it’s perfect: the stalks are straight, you just shove ’em in there, and they’re chopped up efficiently.

The cider press, however, didn’t hold up its end of the bargain. It worked just fine for apples, especially after we chopped them up a bit, but there just isn’t enough water in the stalks of the sorghum plants to have much “juice” come out! Brooke was able to get a little out, but it wasn’t an efficient method of extraction. So, she had to resort to “plan B.”

She grabbed a big pot she had downstairs and effectively made a “sorghum tea” out of it. This ended up involving soaking the sliced-and-diced stalks in water, then trying to game out when the tea was “done” (i.e. as close to “fully extracted” as we’d get). I’m sure this process could be refined with something like a refractometer, but Brooke was just looking to “pilot” this process and refine it next time. The question was: how much will we get from two rows of sorghum?

Answer? A quart jar. She heated the liquid to 210 F for awhile, which is what she read the right temp was to do the job without causing undue crystallization. The color looked good! The taste isn’t quite as “molasses-y” as I think we expected, but to be fair, molasses doesn’t come from sorghum, so of course it doesn’t taste identical. It’s definitely sweet, though, and sticky. I don’t really pick up as much flavor as I do from molasses, though? There’s a “burnt” quality to molasses that this doesn’t really have. I think Brooke picked up more flavors than I did.

In the end, we didn’t get a ton, so likely isn’t going to be a process we can take advantage of to make enough to sell it or anything. We’ll just have to see how good it tastes in cookies: then we can decide if it’s worth it!

Snow Daze

I feel like it’s been snowing….a lot…this year. We had our third major snowfall this past week, a year after we had a similar experience.

To recap, we had enough snow to go sledding on January 15th. It wasn’t a ton (maybe 4″?), but it was “enough,” and was of a good consistency for outdoor activities. It was cold enough in mid-January that it hung around for a bit, though roads weren’t all that terrible.

Then, February 2nd, we got hit with another 7″ of snow. That time, it dropped some ice underneath, so the roads were a bit more treacherous. We were out of school Wednesday through Friday that week because of the snow and cold temperatures. Meg was supposed to have a competition in Cape Girardeau for robotics that weekend that ended up being shifted to a remote event due to weather.

Then, snow around town is almost melted, and we get yet another round. This time, they were forecasting 10.7″. We didn’t get quite that much, but we hit 9″, depending on where exactly you measured the snow drifts. This time, we were out Thursday and Friday, so more school delayed. I had to record a lecture for one of my classes because we’ve missed so many days already. The kids had a few remote school days, but they’ve exhausted all that they’re allowed for the school year now, so they’re going to have to start taking back Spring Break days, or tack on days to the end of the school year.

Suffice to say, I think we’re done with snow. The weather may not be “done,” but we’re done. I suppose Calvin is still having fun outside, but the amount of disruption this year feels worse than we’ve had the past few years (and that’s considering a pandemic, of course).

Also, the forecast for tomorrow is 54 F, and it’s supposed to be 65 F on Monday. Missouri…..has been a whole thing this Winter….

Out With The Old…

….not pictured….another pair outside that I use for mowing the lawn…

The new year has marked a change in my exercise routine, for multiple reasons. After I completed my marathon last October, I decided I’d semi-retire from regular running as I had been for the past few years. Mostly, this was because of the wear and tear I thought I was feeling toward the end of training. For most of November, and even into December, I was still feeling pain occasionally when running, usually in my left knee, so that solidified the plan to ease off regular running and shift more into cycling as my exercise of choice.

For four years, since 2018, I ran at least 1000 miles each year, putting somewhere between 400 and 600 miles on multiple pairs of running shoes (pictured above…we got rid of most of them this weekend, as they were just taking up space in my closet!). I decided I still wanted to keep up running, but would cut it down to 500 miles a year (~42 mi/mo). There are some days when I’ve got 25 minutes to spare and running 3 miles is easier than getting cycling gear out, right?

Of course, this is January in Missouri, so the weather hasn’t exactly been conducive to cycling. We’ve actually had some decent weather here and there (the high tomorrow is supposed to be 57 F!), but usually good enough that I want to go for a jog and not suit up for 10+ miles on my bike. That’ll change as the season improves, I’m sure.

After the flood in June, we ended up rearranging the basement a bit. And since we canceled our YMCA membership due to the ongoing pandemic, we’ve missed having access to equipment on rainy/cold days, so we’ve been incrementally upgrading our basement with exercise gear. Brooke’s rowing machine survived the flood, thankfully, but we added a spin bike a few months ago for ~$200 that has been pretty good for me this month. I’ve logged 195 miles on it in January, which is almost 30% of what I biked in total last year. It’s set up so I can have my phone on it, watching Netflix or whatever, or I can just listen to a podcast or something. Brooke usually bounces between the rowing machine and the spin bike most mornings.

A few weeks ago, we picked up an incline bench and some adjustable dumbbells. We picked up a few sets of kettlebells last year, but they max out at 15 lb each, whereas the dumbbells I grabbed (on clearance for way less than that link to Amazon shows….thanks, Walmart!) adjust anywhere fro 5 lb to 25 lb, each, giving us a bit more flexibility on what we can do with them. We even grabbed a few laminated posters to help out with different free weight exercises. Brooke’s thinking she wants to kick up her strength training a bit in 2022: nothing too crazy, but enough to kick that bone density up at a younger age so she isn’t struggling when she’s older.

I suppose aside from 500 mi of running this year, my only main athletic goal is to bike 100 mi on the Katy Trail sometime this Summer. As the weather improves, training for that should get easier, though I’m not all that concerned. The good thing about cycling is that you’re sitting the whole time, so you can just keep on going and you’ll eventually get the distance you’re aiming for (assuming you don’t pop a tire).

All I know is, I’m ready for some consistency in weather…this back-and-forth (which is typical for Missouri, of course) is getting to me…

Old Habits Die Hard

I suppose the never-ending pandemic has led us all to reevaluate our priorities, causing us to jump back into things we used to do, or try other things we always meant to, but “never had the time.”

A few months ago, I started practicing guitar again with a crew of folks playing at a church here in town. They’re only committing to once-a-month, give or take, so we’ve only actually played at their service twice. Still, returning to a regular practice time each week and getting to play some loud music has been fun! After the flood last Summer, I had to replace a few things, namely my electric guitar amp, so this gave me the excuse to upgrade to something more powerful than what I had before.

Strangely enough, I was approached in early December about joining the Marshall Philharmonic Orchestra. The kids started with a new piano teacher last Fall, and her husband directs the Philharmonic, as well as the Marshall Community Band that plays each Wednesday during the Summer. Through a variety of conversations (including with Meg’s orchestra and band directors), they figured out that I used to play percussion instruments in another life, and it turns out folks with that particular skillset aren’t exactly a dime a dozen, so the director of the Philharmonic handed me their practice schedule and said I’d be welcome to join in: they “can always use more percussionists!”

The Philharmonic has 4 shows a season, taking place during the school year, so they already had two performances last semester. The first practice for this next performance was on January 2nd, which featured a lovely ice storm, keeping many of the rather elderly musicians home that day. Still, I joined up with one other percussionist to do what I could.

Bear in mind that I haven’t done this since 2000! Since that time, I’ve played hand drums and drum set, but that involves improvisation almost exclusively. And when I’ve played guitar at various churches in the past 22 years, it’s been using chords on a sheet of paper. So yeah, reading musical notes isn’t something I’ve had to do much recently! It took me a bit to acclimate, remembering to circle tempo and time signature changes, writing notes to put down whatever I’m holding so I can go over and grab a triangle in time to play it for two notes, only to return back to whatever I was doing before.

It’s been fun so far, and I think I’m getting back into things relatively well. We’ve had 3 practices thus far, and I’ve run through my music with a practice pad at home (the same one I had back in high school!) so I’m at least a little prepared when I get there. Don’t get me wrong, I’m most definitely still making mistakes all over the place, but that’s why we practice, right?

One thing that’s taking me a bit to get used to is the difference between “high school band” and “community band.” Back in high school, it was a class one took, so everyone was there almost every day, and everyone had to practice at least a little bit because they were receiving a grade for their troubles. With a community band, it’s all volunteer, so you’re lucky if people open their music at all during the week – and you’re further lucky if all of the musicians are even present at each practice. The director is having to sing out various phrases of music because multiple key instruments aren’t there to carry the tune, for example.

Still, it’s a good opportunity to revisit a part of my life that I miss from time to time. Meg is playing bass in orchestra now, so I don’t have a huge connection to that, but she also started percussion in band this year, so now I can kind of brush up on my own history while hearing about how she’s traveling along the same path I did 30 years ago.

Time flies, right?

Trying Out New Toys

We hosted Oktoberfest again this year after a hiatus in 2020 (for obvious reasons…). We had a good turnout and the weather turned out to be beautiful, albeit on the warm side. A couple of visitors came by to catch up and we had a lovely chat, but as part of our conversation, we found out they had a cider press they hadn’t used in years and Brooke had been in the market (passively…) for one for awhile.

A week later, they were kind enough to deliver it to us. We wanted to compensate them, of course, but they very graciously wanted to give it to us. We left as a “long-term loan,” just in case they find a buyer (besides us) that they want to sell it to.

We waited a few weekends for some solid weather to be outside all day, and thankfully it didn’t take long. Brooke picked up some cheap apples from Peter’s Market (two half-pecks…which I guess….is a peck…right?) and we prepped to use the press, while also setting up the chiminea for some warmth and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows.

After chatting with a few folks, we thought cutting the apples into quarters would be sufficient, but one run through the mill showed us that wouldn’t be sufficient. We pressed as best as we could, but the structure of the apples was simply too dense at that side. From there, Brooke tried slicing and dicing a bit more and that worked better. At one point, she went inside and brought out the food processor, but that didn’t work all that well, either. It wasn’t a bad idea, per se, but the processor only diced the bottom portion of the container and couldn’t get to the top, so it wasn’t any more efficient than simply chopping up the apples.

Ultimately, she ended up cutting the apples into sixteenths, and that was the most efficient we could get it.

The cider we got we filtered through a collander to catch any remnants of apple (or bugs…) that fell into the liquid. The good thing about cider is that it isn’t supposed to be perfectly “clean” or anything, so it isn’t like we were looking for much clarity. The flavor was surprisingly sweet to me, though I don’t tend to gravitate toward cider, personally. Brooke and Meg thought it was good, though, so I suppose it was a success!

Ultimately, we ended up with just under 3 gallons of cider from that peck of apples, working out to around $20/gallon. Is that “worth it?” I dunno. But we had fun working together and hanging out that afternoon in some beautiful Fall weather, so regardless of the end-product, “the journey” was worth it!

Catching Up

So yeah, haven’t posted since September…..guess we’ve got some stuff to catch up on, eh?

Honestly, there’s been so much going on, I haven’t really known what to put up on the blog. The garden was done and we were all just doing day-to-day stuff at work, school, or around the house. One of many issues with an ongoing pandemic is that there are fewer milestone events worth mentioning for the record, as we find ourselves just figuratively treading water and trying to go from one day to the next. I’ll just recount some things about the last few months, though…

First of all, no infections in our little family of four, thankfully. The kids have only gone to stores like Walmart a few times, but we’ve mostly kept them at home unless there was a reason to take them alone (e.g. birthday presents, going to JCPenney for annual portraits, etc.). Any time we go anywhere, we’re still masked up, though around Marshall, many folks have gotten much more lax about it. Likely, this is why COVID cases have skyrocketed around here in recent weeks/months, though that’s true for Missouri and, frankly, the rest of the country, too.

However, the kids have been in and out of school, which has been a challenge to deal with. Their school district shifted to distance learning twice (now they’re in it for the rest of 2020, but plan to start in-person in early January), and Meg’s class has been quarantined twice this semester, so there were times where Calvin could go to his school, but Meg had to distance learn from home. Somewhat surprisingly, they’ve handled the back-and-forth shockingly well. We’ve left Meg mostly to her own devices in completing her work on Google Classroom and she got an award (and free pizza) for doing so well. Calvin has done well, too, but as a first grader, he just needs more engagement than a screen can provide. Still, both of our kids routinely say that they are in their daily Google Meet sessions with less than half of the rest of their class that is supposed to be there, so while my kids are doing alright, I know that there are countless more in our community and in the country as a whole that aren’t. We’re just lucky that our work schedules allow for a little more supervision and engagement as parents than some other families have.

On my end, the semester ended before Thanksgiving, which is crazy when you think about what a normal college schedule looks like. I ended up dealing with multiple students who were in and out of quarantine, which made it difficult to figure out when exams, lab practicals, and assignments could happen. Our school moved to a new LMS this semester, so I’ve been trying some new things in order to mitigate some of the scheduling issues. Overall, my students didn’t do as well this year as they’ve done in the past, so I’ve been trying to reevaluate the way I did things this past semester and see if I can make some improvements going forward. I guess that’s something I’m constantly reviewing anyway, but since I’m using the new LMS, I’m finding new tools that I didn’t use last semester but will use this time, so that’s at least kinda interesting.

A few months ago, Brooke scaled back her hours at work so she could start looking toward getting some counseling hours in toward her LPC. Working full time just doesn’t allow for the additional 15 hours a week that are required to actually get that certification in, so she’s taking a much needed break right now and will likely start getting those hours in once the new year starts. It’s been helpful having her around with more flexibility, as I could stay late for a meeting while Brooke could get home with the kids to make sure they were on a call at the right time, or get their lunches made, and so forth. The added flexibility has helped alleviate the stress we would otherwise be experiencing right now!

Last, but not least, Charlotte and Sam are getting along much better now. She’s been chasing him around a bit and, for the most part, he isn’t fighting back all that hard. Kinda an older brother being pestered by their significantly younger sibling, I guess. She’s also getting fatter…but not particularly bigger?

In closing, all I can say for sure is….I’m ready for things to get back to normal…..ug…….

Kayaking Adventures

Since our vacation plans were derailed this year (we were supposed to have been in Yellowstone last week……ug…..), we’ve tried coming up with some fun alternatives that will still be memorable for the kids. A few weeks ago, Brooke and I took our inflatable kayak that we got last summer down a stretch of the nearby Lamine River. It’s a little less than 6 miles and took us about 3 hours to do it, but three weeks ago, the river had more water in it and was moving a bit faster.

Brooke looked into getting a youth-size kayak for Meg to use, so Calvin and I could just use our inflatable, and Meg and Brooke could use traditional fiberglass versions. They checked around, thought there were some at Walmart in Sedalia, drove down….didn’t find any at the store….and essentially, it sounds like most places are out of kayaks. It sounds like everyone else is thinking the same thing we are: fewer vacation options, so find stuff to do closer to home, and kayaks are a relatively cheap option for that.

Well, once we figured that out, Brooke tried ordering another one of our inflatable kayaks from Amazon, but those were back-ordered (again, the aforementioned “everyone is buying them all the sudden,” but also “harder to get things shipped in from China). Thankfully, they over-estimated the back-order and a second kayak arrived on Friday. Yesterday’s weather was less pleasant, so we ended up going today.

Overall, the kids did pretty well! We tried to warn them that this was a pretty “lazy river,” so it wasn’t a particularly fast float. The novelty of kayaking wore off pretty quick, so Brooke and I ended up doing most of the paddling, though Meg and Calvin would have their moments where they wanted to actually help out a bit. We brought along some snacks and drinks, so we could slowly release those here and there to keep them occupied.

By the time we were done, it took about 3.5 hrs of paddling, and all things considered, the kids did alright in that period of time sans screens and other entertainment. Brooke and I were both pretty tired by the time we got to the end, so it’ll probably be an early bedtime tonight.

In the end, it was very tiring, but we’re still glad we did it! We may want to hold off on doing a “camp and float” trip, but now that the kids have a better understanding for just how long this can take, maybe they’ll have realistic expectations when we propose: ‘hey, wanna go on a float trip?’