Project: It Was Just a Harmless Coff

Well, we just embarked on another camping adventure. A short one this time unlike our previous multi-week excursions. Of course, there is birding involved – Ron is even going to be able to join me for some fun time in the field… not for a couple of days though until the weather clears up. Seems that we are perpetuating a trend on our trips. In January we brought the Midwest rain, snow and ice down to Texas with us. In April we brought the Midwest Spring downpours to the Alabama Gulf Shores and Florida Panhandle. Now, damned if we didn’t manage to bring the May showers north with us. Clearly we are CURSED!

Project Foam Coffin Halloween Project for Haunted Trail of Tears 2020

As I sit here listening to the rain come down, thought it would be an excellent time to get to another one of the new props for last year’s Haunted Trail of Tears (link here). Unlike the previous post which was more of upgrade to an existing prop, today we are covering the signature piece for the year. Each year I decide on what the big addition is going to be and then spend a majority of the year trying to get it conceived prior to show time. Note, regardless of how early I start on the signature piece each year… I NEVER give myself enough runway. Every year it comes down to the night before or even the day of to get it in good enough shape for the trail.

Hit the jump to learn all the behind the scenes work it took to bring this idea to life.

Continue reading Project: It Was Just a Harmless Coff

Project Wicked Color

“Another post so soon and sans birds or anything with a heartbeat – what’s up with that Bri!?!” Tis true folks. My inbox has been filling up with hate mail from the Birds Are Rats with Wings (BARwW) Consortium – when they get their dander up they can be a handful, especially when maintaining a birding blog as part of the overall Intrigued mothership. They were feeling left out along with a number of the other purely non-wildlife readers that have admittedly been slightly in my pursuit to close the gap on Ron’s birding count. Guessing based on the last post you might have been expecting a companion post on the actual 2020 foam coffin prop. That would definitely been a logical thing to expect, but that is waaay to predictable for me – I prefer to keep you guessing (especially for those sending me angry emails ha!)

In my defense, this post does carry the Haunted Trail of 2020 theme (link here). For reference, you will need to actually look back at the Project Witch Replicate post (link here). That blog post covered a new prop for the Haunted Trail of 2017 (link here and here) – can’t believe it was that long ago. This was the 2017 version of the witch.

Witch from Haunted Trail of Tears 2017

Hit the jump to read about the 2020 upgrade!

Continue reading Project Wicked Color

Project JigIt: Failure Leads to Invention

So, long time followers of Intrigued should already know my kryptonite is failure. It literally gnaws at my core until something is done about it. Pretty much three paths lead from such events – train harder/get better and get ‘er done, find a better way to accomplish said feat or, unfortunately, find myself in the hospital. Come to think of it, there is really only two paths as the last one just starts the cycle over again. Not sure of the exact moment this infliction came to be, but likely a result of being undersized in every sport I ever participated in and a father (who was also undersized) that wisely knew the ramifications of letting someone get the better of you and not picking yourself off the ground. This being an over-dramatic intro for one such failure, albeit one of a harmless nature. What you see in this next shot is the results of “find a better way” after a disappointment.

A bit of background. For the 2019 Halloween Haunted Trail (link here), I had designed a new prop to add to the cemetery. The intent was to have a coffin being half exposed from the ground being pulled out by a group of skeletons. Prop building for the big event starts months in advance in order to get it completed prior to the chaotic mess that occurs during setup. I picked up the foam sheets to make the coffin out of in April and went right to work on cutting out the pieces. The top and bottom were supposed to be easy as they were straight cuts. Not the case, as my hand would waver on the long cuts – the foam was no match for the hot blade of the gun and happily obliged a wayward cut. Slowly the coffin size got smaller and smaller as I tried to correct the bad cuts.

Project Foam Cutter Jig

Hit the jump to read about the solution to an annoying failure.

Continue reading Project JigIt: Failure Leads to Invention

Halloween Haunted Trail 2020 – Part 3: Night Walk

Pretty sure your browser image cache is getting hammered as a result of these Halloween posts.  Good news, this is the last of the Haunted Trail 2020 series and in my opinion the best.  Even with all the images we selected for the posts, it still doesn’t cover the expanse of the trail, but it does give a good perspective of what you are in for the night of the event.  I’ve already covered a lot of the background in the other posts, so for the Night Walk I’ll keep the words to a minimum.

Halloween Haunted Trail of Tears 2020

I did want to cover the changes we put in place to make the event as safe as possible in the midst of the pandemic.  From our sampling it was clear most of our friends were really looking forward to the night.  Part of that was the chance to see how everyone had been coping during the lockdown.  We are a social species and interactions with friends is just plain good for the soul.

Halloween Haunted Trail of Tears 2020

Hit the jump to take a virtual tour of our big night!

Continue reading Halloween Haunted Trail 2020 – Part 3: Night Walk

Halloween Haunted Trail 2020 – Part 2: Day Walk

Bringing you the second of the three part Halloween Haunted Trail of Tears.  Last post I took you behind the scenes to give you a feel for what it takes to prepare for the event.  Putting all the props together, getting them staged out on the trails and then the creativity phase of actually placing and building up the scenes.  Today we are going to focus on what we call the Day Walk.  Once everything is built I like to go through and take shots of the trail before the sun goes down.  It takes on an entirely different feel once darkness falls which will be shown in the final post of this series.  Note, due to the dramatic change that occurs, some guests actually prefer to experience the trail during the light in order to minimize the trauma and nightmares ha!

Halloween Haunted Trail of Tears 2020 - Day Walk

It is hard to really express how big the trail is.  I keep reminding myself to calculate how long the walk is with all the offshoot paths etc.  Each year that gets forgotten ugh.  Our guests are probably more interested in the elevation change as it actually sits in a valley requiring both a healthy walk down and then an admittedly difficult walk back up.  Although Linda and I discuss options every year to mitigate this (elevators, ATV shuttles, tow ropes..) there doesn’t seem to a viable resolution, although the idea of elevators sounds pretty cool hehehe.

Halloween Haunted Trail of Tears 2020 - Day Walk

Hit the jump to see a good representation of this year’s Haunted Trail of Tears.

Continue reading Halloween Haunted Trail 2020 – Part 2: Day Walk

Halloween Haunted Trail of Tears 2020 – Prep and Setup

Well, the time has come for the massive end of the year summary stats padding.  If there is one set of posts that have a dramatic impact on those numbers it is the Halloween Haunted Trail Project posts that have the biggest impact – specifically in the number of images used during the course of the year.  Probably not an extremely relevant number for my readers, but one I have been keeping since the beginning in my yearly assessments.  If nothing else, it is a barometer for how productive I was.   It goes hand in hand with the word count.  Was the ratio of words to pictures in the ballpark as I am sure my readers prefer the pretty pictures to my ramblings.  The Haunted Trail posts are always skewed to the pictures due to the size of the event.  So, without further ramble, let’s hit the trail.

Halloween Haunted Trail of Tears 2020

Oops, before we hit the trail, we need to talk about all the prep work that comes with putting this event on.   Linda and I had long debates on whether we were going to hold the annual party this year.  As you know, the pandemic had taken its bite out of the year and we were not sure whether we could pull this off and keep everyone safe.

Halloween Haunted Trail of Tears 2020

Hit the jump to learn what it is like behind the scenes at the Halloween Haunted Trail of Tears

Continue reading Halloween Haunted Trail of Tears 2020 – Prep and Setup

Project: Flaming Pumpkin Rider

All I can say is thank god there’s 31 days in August.  Cutting it close with the quota this month, but all is good.  I knew it would be in reach as long as I got within 1 of the quota.  September is my stress month as it is usually a huge race month and more critical, the last month before our big Halloween event, the Haunted Trail of Tears.  Thanks to Covid, the race season has been decimated so that has been taken out of the equation.  We are still discussing what to do about the party, but for now it is still on assuming we can incorporate appropriate safeguards against the invisible enemy.  That means the prop factory is in full swing to close out the new 2020 editions.  To keep the momentum going, the final post of the month features the last of the new props from the 2019 event.

Headless Horseman Halloween Decoration 2019

Yep, the Grand Poobah of the new props.  I’ve already covered the other new additions, Westworld 2.0 Posey Line (link here), Ned (link here) and Johnny (link here),  The last new prop for the 2019 trail was big.. like really big…like lifesize horse big.  Whoever runs the Halloween decorations at Home Depot may actually like Halloween as much as I and that is saying a LOT.  Their offerings each year are incredible.. problem is.. they kind of know it per the price tags they slap on their items.  They had a life size Zombie Horse prop for the 2018 offerings.  Guess what the price was?  go ahead, pick a number…if you picked $200 you were to low!  Their horse was $300 which is too steep for this haunter.  I can build a lot of my own props for that much money.

Hit the jump to read more about the new addition to last year’s haunt

Continue reading Project: Flaming Pumpkin Rider

Westworld 2.0 Posey Line Goes into Production

Hello again folks!  If you recall, last post I did a little bit of house cleaning and finally go to one of my Halloween prop projects from last year’s Haunted Trial of Tears.  I must say, that gave me some extra motivation to get going on this year’s planned new additions.  If I manage to get all my honey-do items taken care of this weekend, I’ll definitely head down into the lab and try to make some progress (also excited as some new electronic parts I’ve been waiting for have finally arrived).  Since the last post was so much fun, thought I’d go ahead and double up on the Halloween prop posts and bring out the latest edition to the Posey line (link here and here and here).

ServoMan Posey Halloween Decoration 2019

As with the previous walk through, hit the jump and see how our new evil looking addition to the trail came to be.

Continue reading Westworld 2.0 Posey Line Goes into Production

Meet Ned

So I was walking through Menards yesterday, doing a little window shopping as I already had procured the goals of the visit.  Cruised through a few of my favorite aisles – yes, the PVC section for sure and the power tool section because every guy likes the power tool section.  Picked up a few things for some props I’m working on and headed towards the checkout.  Almost made it there before I was completely stopped dead in my tracks.  Before me were shelves filled with Halloween decorations.  My heart skipped a beat – grabbed my phone and checked the date.  Okay, still July – what a relief.  Still a few months to go before the Haunted Trail for 2020.  Clearly the commercial chains are trying to blow right past Halloween so they can put out their damn Christmas decorations even earlier.  Pathetic Menards, truly pathetic.  It did get me thinking about the props I built for last year… then realized I had decorations still in the post queue and then looked back down at the phone and the heart skipped again thanks to realizing I only had a few days left before the end of the month and still had not met the month’s quota.  Needless to say, not a good day for the heart ha!  Anyway, made a point to get those concerns addressed, so here we are.

ArachNed Halloween Decoration 2019

Meet Ned, one of the new props for last year’s Haunted Trail of Tears (link here).  I must say for the record, the trail shot really doesn’t capture how creepy this prop turned out.  We ended up putting in in the adult section as we were not sure what kind of impact it would have on the kids.  Of course, I consider that a complete success hehehehe.  Hit the jump to learn how Ned came to be.

Continue reading Meet Ned

Flame On

I’m a post short against this month’s blog quota.  Luckily, the post material queue is packed to the brim and really more of a matter of “which” to bring versus “what” to bring which quite frankly is a big stress reliever.  I noticed there were still Halloween decoration topic from last year’s epic Haunted Trail event.  Admittedly, I’ve purposely avoided these posts as they tend to bring up some sad memories that occurred at this time. Problem is, if I don’t get to these by the time the new haunt season comes along I’ll be way behind – and as I have learned from the wildlife photography posts, as soon as you get behind there is no telling if you will EVER get caught up.  So, going to try and keep the eyes dry as I relate one of the new decorations for the 2019 Haunted Trail of Tears (link here).

Packing Tape Ghost Halloween Decoration 2019

Hit the jump to see how Johnny here was put together!

Continue reading Flame On