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)
I’ve been posting a lot about checking items off of a list lately, but today’s post is not about birds. Nope, we are going to cover another one of my precious lists – this time it is another notch on the life list. I was a bit tardy on my last notch thanks to the dreaded Heat Miser inflicting a heavy toll. The goal was to get the 50K trail ultra prior to my retirement – a gift to myself, if you will, while I still had full medical coverage ha! You already know how that first attempt went (link here). Add in the pandemic and it took two years to wipe that blemish off my record. Missed the time goal, but at least got it crossed off. That brings us to the other running entry on the life list – the 50 miler by 55. With everything shifted a year thanks to the worldwide shutdown it was getting pretty tight – it was this year or be late AGAIN.
Opted to go with the Farmdale Ultra again – same place where I ended up getting my first 50K out of the way (link here). The cool October weather takes most of the heat concern out of the equation and I knew (well I thought I knew) the route like the back of my hand. By the way, the irony isn’t lost as I make a post on a run now sponsored by a running organization that goes by “No One Cares You Run Ultras”.
Hit the jump to see how this latest life list endeavor turned out!
Ooops! So I sat down at my computer all prepared to cover the latest addition to my running career – more specifically, the most recent accomplishment on the ultra-marathon trail circuit. That was the intention until I noticed there was another race sitting in the queue that I had completely forgotten about. Now that will just not due, so the ultra will have to wait a bit as the Bix was BACK!
Now that I’ve officially made the migration to the joys of the dirt and mud on the trail, there are very few races on the road that get me too excited. What was once my bread and butter now holds little enjoyment for me. Truthfully, some of that is due to something I cannot control – Father Time. As the years went by, the wear and tear on the body started taking their inevitable impact and push to simply maintain the pace from the previous year was becoming frustrating. As that is the measure of quality on the road it became a source of frustration. Fortunately, there is still one road race that gets me excited – one that will likely forever hold a special place – the one that started it all!
Hit the jump to learn if the road go the best of me!
Well, by the fact you are reading this post means my latest physical challenge didn’t succeed in killing me – yeah! So, as a quick recap for those that are not regular readers of this side of Intrigued, yesterday was a big day for yours truly. A day that has been nagging at me for two solid years thanks to a …hmmm… let’s just refer to it as a blemish on my running career. A mishap that ended up in with an unexpected ambulance ride to the emergency room. The event was the Cry Me a River Trail Run (CMAR) held along the bluffs of the Illinois River. Back in 2018 I had run the half marathon distance and learned just how hard this course was – beaten to hell, but left grinning ear to ear in absolute enjoyment – trail runners can be a strange lot ha (link here). So much fun, I committed to the 50K the following year. That was supposed to be 31+ miles (more on the ‘+’ later), but I only made it ~14 before dropping from heat exhaustion. Passed out and hit a box fan on the way down earning myself a 2 inch gash in the back of my head (link here). The minute I regained consciousness there was one thing dominating my thoughts – redemption .. actually make that two – redemption and that’s a lot of wasted blood. My first DNF (did not finish) in any race and it gnawed at me every day. Trained my ass off to make another go at it last year, but thanks to that damn pandemic the race was canceled – ANOTHER year of gnawing and hard training in hopes this was the year to rid my record of those three humbling letters.
It all came to a head yesterday morning as I lined up at 8am on the CMAR starting line in an attempt to fulfill a commitment made on a ambulance gurney 2 long years ago. Hit the jump to find out if my attempt was successful… or was this another endeavor cut short with another ride in an ambulance.
Hello everyone! Thought I would take a break from your regularly scheduled programming and bring you a bit of self-indulgence. Actually, since I have very little to do with any of the honors, I should really classify it as some family bragging. Take a look at what our little dude brought home from our recent trip to Michigan.
That is one proud puppy! As mentioned in some previous posts, we had the opportunity to head up north and compete in the UKC Premier Nationals. Raven and his mother were in the top 50 UKC Agility Level 2 (AG2) Toy Division (4″) dogs in the nation. This got them invited to their annual Premier where they go head to head in the agility ring.
Hit the jump to see a few more shots of our little ball of fur.
Unfortunately, I am late on this particular post. It isn’t so much a case of procrastination as I had written the first version prior to Monday. During the course of several activities over the weekend (including birding with Ron), I mulled on the approach I had taken and the words written regarding the topic. Thoughts went back and forth until the time came to publish and I decided to scrap it. I still hold firmly the opinions originally expressed, but decided Memorial Day was a time to honor those that have fought for our freedoms and principles at home and abroad rather than sully it with accounts of worthless politicians and seditious mainstream media.
Instead, I wanted to focus on the brave men and women who volunteered or were called to duty like my Father to defend our nation’s founding principles. To all who have or are serving we owe a level of gratitude that can never be repaid. I would contend that all have been permanently altered to some degree by their experiences. My father would not discuss what he went through during his time in the Army deployed during the Korean War. Piecing together tidbits gathered over my lifetime – a photograph here, a rare comment there or an emotion that momentarily forced its way through his stoic facade weave a tale no one would wish upon their child.
19 months ago I ran my last official trail race – actually make that my last official race of any kind. That was the redemption 50K run at Farmdale towards the end of 2021 – before the damn pandemic decided to destroy my running events (link here). I did participate in one virtual race in April of last year (link here), but frankly, that’s like paying someone to give you a medal for a training run – you were going to do it anyway except now it costs you to go out and run alone. Now, that was for Make A Wish so the donation fee definitely went to a good cause. The rest of the 2020 races ended up going to some form of virtual as well – all those I passed on. Instead I focused on the planned 50 miler at Farmdale – a step up from the 30K the year before. Trained and trained and trained until the disappointing news came that it was canceled as well. 2020 was a bust, and honestly, it was looking like 2021 was stacking up to be more of the same. That is until Linda noticed the Blue Chevy Trail Classic Half Marathon at Farmdale Reservoir was taking entries!
Hit the jump to read about my first race since forever.
Well, it was the year 2020 but if anyone had perfect vision for what the world would be put through, they should immediately make their way to Vegas and find an open Roulette table – should not be hard to find an empty seat these days. It is the small achievements along the way that get us through the bad times. One such example is the completion of the 13th year of blogging here at Intrigued – at least for the mothership, the wildlife side is a little younger as that sister site was created a number of years later. Adding to that is a self-pat on the back for once again hitting the 6 post a month self-imposed minimum. It was touch and go there a couple of times during the year, but we fought through it. Definitely had a huge gaping hole in the running posts this year. With the exception of the one virtual race recollected a couple of posts ago, the year was a complete bust. This made hitting my yearly goal of logging at least 1,100 miles a lonely journey. Toeing the line on race day is a huge motivation for me – with every race last year canceled due to that ass Covid, keeping on track and hauling myself out to the trails every other day tested the mental toughness. Fought through two injuries to the back and a ridiculous last month of miles to get that check again this year (1,200+ actually).
2020 also brought with it some big changes related to our careers. Linda officially retired February 1, 2020 giving her some badly needed stress relief after her large operation the year before. Thanks to the pandemic, she really didn’t get to enjoy her first year of freedom as much as she deserved. By November I had convinced myself to hang up the corporate life as well and went on permanent vacation until the official retirement on February 1st of this year. Definitely looking forward to all the extra cycles available to spend on blog material – in between the extra training runs of course ha!
One of my goals last year (come to think of it … every year) has been to increase awareness of the Intrigued blogs. Over the last year I’ve been able to keep in touch with many of my long time readers and had the privilege of gaining additional followers that apparently enjoy my musings. For the existing fans as well as the new followers, I am truly thankful and honored you are willing to spend the one thing that is the most valuable in our lives – ‘time’. A unique possession that is perpetually consumed yet never replaceable. I am also thankful for the other members of the blogsphere that educate me on a daily basis, give me hours of enjoyment and continue to expand my thinking/perspectives along with pushing me to get better at my craft.
A few quick shout outs. One to my brother Ron who is a big part of the behind the scenes operations as birding companion, ID confirmer and all around fact checker – not to mention invaluable help with all the Halloween projects that go on around here year round. To CJ (link here) and B. in the UK (link here) who keep me informed on what is going on across the pond and then there’s my personal editor Brad M. who keeps the pages mostly free of the egregious syntax errors – sorry for all the errors that make it through – In my defense, I graduated from the University of Illinois’ Engineering College which makes bits and bytes my first language (then married someone with a similar background so we could communicate hehehe).
Keeping with tradition, it’s time to look back at the year’s output and self-evaluate. One noticeable improvement is the number of followers. Few things bring a smile to my day more than a comment or like on one of my posts. If you are curious about the details, hit the jump to see the individual stats and accomplishments.
Thanks again to all my readers and here’s to the new year of fun and adventures that will assuredly find their way onto these pages.
Hit the jump for the details on the 2020 Life Intrigued blogs summary.