Before I get into the heart of this post, I wanted to congratulate our little fur covered bundle of energy on his first birthday a week ago Sunday!
A surprising thing happened the day before his birthday. Linda and I were enjoying our breakfast at the kitchen table when Ruger came bounding in like Tigger. Raven had reminded him the next day he would be turning the big 1. Ruger goes to a chair at the end of the table, nudges it out a foot or so and then proceeds to go back into the living room, puts his butt against a small stool and pushes it all the way into the kitchen – quite the struggle until he finally gets it off the rug and onto the slicker tile flooring. With the stool in position next to the table, he backs up, bolts forward, leaps to the top of the stood and then launches himself up to the seat of the pulled out chair – pretty sure he muttered some older than 1 year old words regarding how high our kitchen table is. Now comfortably situated, he leans on the table with his paws and announces “I want a play date with Happy [his Poodle friend] for my birthday present!!!”. Linda and I looked at each other with open mouths, blinked a couple of times, looked back at Ruger and then glanced back at each other quite shocked – we thought for sure he would say “bouncy house party”. Goes to show you, you never really know what goes on inside the mind of a Poodle. Note, I did point out that there was a step ladder like 5 feet from the table that would have been a lot easier to use. Called up Happy’s mom, relayed the request and received confirmation – now we rock in Ruger’s eyes. A little concerned about what next year’s request is going to be ha!
Anyway, a small bright moment to start off the post of what is a rather sad post. I was looking through the image queue for a good topic to cover today. After perusing through a number of sets I opted for my latest field adventure. To be honest I almost Titled this post “Technical Limbo: How Low Can You Go”. I thought I had lowered the technical bar pretty far with my previous Bat post, but this adds a whole new level of sadness.
If I dipped a craft brush in a bottle of black paint and flung it at a blue wall I could probably get a blob that looks at least as good as these first few shots. That would have been the easy approach, instead I spent 2 hours in a cold field starting at dusk playing “Hunt the Wumpus” until my fingers were stinging so badly it hurt to push the shutter down. Just to set the record straight, there were ten other people with me so I was NOT the only crazy person in Edelstein, IL that night.
Hit the jump for more splotches… and some surprises (good and sad)
For those of you on the wild side of Intrigued, you might be thinking Bri’s been slacking off this month. That is understandable as that little post calendar in the left navbar is pretty bare – the one day that is highlighted was technically from the last day in February. Truth is. I’ve been pounding the keys like crazy up on the mothership. What started out as a quick break from birds to clear out my overflowing “fail” folder spiraled into a flurry of activity that I now refer to as “The Haunting of March”. My first post this month was a long comedic (eh, at least an attempted humorous) post on “Things that make me go Hmmmmm” as our blogger friend Cedar Journal (link here) has coined. Basically things that catch my attention and either make me cringe or burst out in laughter (view latest fails here). While compiling the images for that lengthy post, noticed there was a a few props from last year’s Haunted Trail of Tears still in the queue. That had to be remedied. While at it, went ahead and added a walkthrough for a recently completed decoration. That’s when the sledgehammer came down. Went to reference the 2021 trail event and it was missing – my signature event for the year, the spectacle that consumes me year-round, the very essence of my being (so says Linda) was completely null and void. As much as I enjoy all things haunt, that gap immediately brought a wave of dread – those posts are massive and require days in the digital darkroom to compile/fix/filter all the shots taken leading up, during and after the event. I put everything aside and pushed through (didn’t help last week I had an hour plundered from me!!). So, for those who enjoy all things Halloween, feel free to check out all the releases on the mothership – warning, the trail posts will definitely burn a hole in your browser’s cache!
’21 Haunted Trail of Tears Prep and Teardown (link here) ’21 Haunted Trail of Tears Day Walker (link here) ’21 Haunted Trail of Tears Night Terror (link here) ’21 Prop: Gargoyle Sentry (link here) ’21 Prop: Mini-Me Fire Breather (link here) ’21 Prop: Injection Freddy (link here) ’22 Prop: Toxic Spidey (link here)
Although a bit exhausted and still waaaayy behind on reading the great posts of fellow bloggers, I didn’t want to leave you hanging any longer (at least right-side up). Continuing the “comic” theme that started March and then tying into the Halloween topics that followed, I bring you this…
Hit the jump to read the background on this spastic Bat.
I always underestimate the amount of work it takes to get the multiple posts out covering the Haunted Trail of Tears each year. Thinking this is why I subconsciously put it off so long ha. The good news is the hard part is past. The prep/teardown (link here) and day walk (link here) posts have a ton of shots that all have to be processed and then I try to focus more on the details and backstory when presenting them. Today’s night walk post still has a ton of pictures which need even more work due to the limited lighting on the trail, however, I can just focus on the experience writing it up thanks to the those other two lead ins.
So, less words today, but hoping you enjoy a sampling from the big night. The Headless Horseman prop is the prop that gets the most attention throughout the night, both from our guests and us. The flaming pumpkin is quite the entertainer, but a hollowed out pumpkin full of kerosene in the woods takes extra caution.
Hit the jump to see the various sights on the Haunted Trail of Tears 2021
And we are back into this haunted March. In the last post I took you through the Haunted Trail of Tears 2021 prep phase and went ahead and covered the tear down while I was at it. It is time to once again to burn a hole through your browser’s image cache with the fun part of putting on this annual event – taking the run through and hitting some of the highlights and features our guests have come to expect to jump start their Halloween season. Today, the focus is on the “Day Walk” while I try to power through the work needed to get the “Night Walk” post prepped – yeoman’s work for sure.
Unfortunately, I forgot to get a shot of the Headless Horseman the first day of the two day event. Corrected this oversight the following morning, but the first pumpkin had already been through the burner ha! You will understand that more when you see the night shots.
The Headless Horseman (link here), has definitely been a guest favorite since making its debut a few years ago. He is placed up near the house instead of on the trail so we can keep an eye on the flames pouring out of the pumpkin. Last thing I need is to set the woods on fire – although that might actually be the only way to flush the rabid clowns out of there.
Those that have been following the March Haunt here at Intrigued are already aware that I discovered a huge gap in last year’s post cycle. I completely forgot to put the traditional recap of our annual Haunted Trail of Tears event. Not sure how that happened and I can’t even us the work crutch now that I’ve crossed my 1 year retirement anniversary. Admittedly, there was a giant sigh when this came to light as it is daunting work to get the images ready for such a post. The good news is the background tasks for the prep and tear down phases is now complete. Time to get that checked off my to-do list!
Each year the first item on the project plan is to open up all the trails in our woods. Since we have a large number of guests that attend, we want to make sure the trails are easy to walk, free of downed obstacles and even more important, falling hazards addressed. Adding to the importance is the fact the event happens mostly in the dark with little to no ambient light. The month leading up to the date requires a lot of time on Big Orange.
Mow all the grass/weeds down, haul off dead trees, smooth out the mole highways and cut back the god-awful invasive Multiflora Rose – a constant pain in my ass. At least our Locust Trees drop their thorns within the perimeter of the tree where the Rose sneaks under cover of night and plants itself where it can inflict the most pain. After a month of hard work and buckets of blood loss, the trails are in good enough shape and ready for a final mowing a couple of days prior to the big date.
During this same timeframe, night activities turn to prop prep. All the tubs have to be brought down from their storage racks in the outbuilding and those requiring assembly and/or batteries are brought down to the basement. That also brings on one of the bigger reoccurring expenses for the event – BATTERIES. Took this picture of a small portion of the required DC power. I stopped counting when I got to 100 9Vs, 35 AAAs and then 245 AAs.
Hit the jump to go behind the scenes at the Haunted Trail of Tears! (don’t be scared, we turned the lights on)
Hopefully with this latest barrage of non-wildlife posts, I am putting to rest all those false accusations Intrigued has completely gone to the birds. A quick count puts this at the 5th consecutive post featuring non-living topics. Some would say this is getting out of “hand”! Speaking of which…
Yep, we are bringing another Halloween prop project that was first introduced in last year’s Haunted Trail of Tears. Halloween may only be a day in most people’s standard year, but around Intrigued it is 363 days a year (we have to take two days off from prop building in order to hold the actual two day event ha). Today’s feature was in the works for probably 3 years and the pieces were just not coming together very well. Made the head first, wasn’t really happy with it as there were issues during the foam filling process. Fixed that issue the next year, got the iconic Freddy hat and then ran out of time to build the Posey frame (link here and earlier versions here). It wasn’t until Covid (more accurately the Covid “response”) that it finally provided the spark …err needle to get me going.
Hit the jump to read about how the key element of this prop came to fruition.
March at Intrigued is slowly turning into October junior. This isn’t by any divine strategy (although a spring Halloween would be awesome!). Nope, this is entirely due to looking at my post queue and realizing I need to get my ass in gear and get at least LAST year’s Halloween related posts out. If not, it pretty much snowballs from there as the prop building is already in progress for this year’s event and before you know it I’ll be in full stress mode trying to get everything planned for the big event. How the hell did I get all this done when I was still working!?!
Whining about it, isn’t going to solve the problem, so let’s get to work. Today’s featured Halloween prop is another “upgrade” project.
Our Mini-Me dragon started out as a base prop that one of my nephews or nieces gave me for Christmas. Note to others, if there is ever a need for a gift idea, you can never go wrong in the haunt department. I picked up the daddy dragon the year before at Big Lots (will show that later). It was a more featured offering with lights in the eyes, moving mouth and various dragon related sounds. The Mini-Me version looked similar, but was lacking these additional features.
Hit the jump to see how this store-bought prop underwent a dramatic improvement before heading out to the haunted trail.
Hitting the non-wildlife side of Intrigued hard this month. I have way too many projects waiting in the queue and need to keep pressing if I ever want to see above the waterline this year. Priority one is to at least get through the Halloween related posts before we get deep into setting up this year’s Haunted Trail of Tears. There are always at least two haunt projects in the works here which always draws one or two strange looks from the service people that come into the house for one reason or another. The regulars are used to it by now and some have even started giving me feedback on the finished props positioned around the basement. The new ones have a very worried look and waste no time getting their tasks done ha! Today I thought I would bring you the latest addition to the collection.
I call him Toxic Spidey and is an elaboration on a store bought skeleton spider my nephew and niece gave me for Christmas this year. They know my sickness, I mean affinity for all things scary. I am really fond of this new wave of props that have been coming out that focus on skeletal structures of smaller animals and insects. Note, they do give us quite the chuckle when they keep the cartilage features like ears – this spider is slightly truer to reality although thankfully larger than the ones we see out in our woods.
Hit the jump to see how this lifeless prop gets a brighter life.
Getting to crunch time. We are now officially under 8 months to Halloween and we still have LOTS to do to get ready for the 2022 Haunted Trail of Tears event (link here). Just realized I didn’t post the detail shots for that event – will get on that stat. Right now I wanted to focus on one of the props I built for last year’s haunt. Technically it is an “upgraded” of a prop that was several years old.
I had designed two Nightwings (link here) and was looking for a clever way to incorporate them into the haunt. Ron found this really cool Gargoyle at Home Depot and bought it for me to use with one of the wings. That heavy resin prop already came with wings so we just tried to cover them up. I also whipped up a stand the night before that year’s event to hold the Gargoyle and the mechanical wings. Trust me, it did look better at night.
After looking at for a couple of years, decided it was time to give it the presentation it deserved – the black plastic tablecloth covering didn’t fit the high standards we set for the trail. Bring on Project Cemetery Sentry.
Doesn’t that look a lot better!?! Thought I would walk you through the effort involved with the transformation.
Hit the jump for more details on the ’21 addition to the prop collection.
The geopolitical landscape is pretty much a shit-show at the moment and I figured everyone might like a quick escape from the doom and gloom being peddled nonstop in the lamestream media. What better way to do that than roll out another episode of Fails in the Wild. Been a spell since my last one (link here) – eesh, just checked, a little over 2 years now. That just means I’ve have more options to choose from! So, turn away from the talking heads, thicken your skin (there is a good chance something might offend you in the name of a cheap laugh), grab a tasty adult beverage assuming you are old enough, toss some popcorn in the microwave, sit back and enjoy. Feel free span this post over multiple sittings as it turned out rather lengthy. Note, all complaints can be sent directly to our legal team who will respond once someone frees them from the locked closet.
There is no better fodder for public failure than signs. We all make “Engrish” mistakes from time to time – hell, I messed up on “threw” just a few posts ago. That, of course, doesn’t make us hesitate in the least when making fun of others hehehe. I do appreciate they at least tried to sound out the syllables in the high value Scrabble word they were trying to impress us with.
Now, credit is due to the above author. Americans (that is my current data pool) seem to have a problem when trying to go long distances in all capital letters. At some point in that string of letters they will revert to lowercase. Ron can attest, I enjoy playing the Where’s Lowercase Waldo. Personally been handwriting in all caps since my first high school computer language class and I still have to concentrate like Brandon trying to make out letters on a teleprompter to keep my fingers from taking the low route. Kudos on keeping it up (you know you want to laugh at that pun), but now let’s work on straight lines.
Saw the following sign at a state park during our January trip to Texas. Guess what place I do NOT need to be instructed to stay at LEAST 6 feet away! The fact they felt this might actually happen concerned me greatly.
Now that you know what you are in for, hit the jump to see the rest of the fails.