Andi's parents joined us at the cabin Saturday morning and offered to babysit the kids during some of their stay so Andi and I could get away for some time together. That made three date activities last week which really helped up my energy and patience levels going into this long week of solo parenting. Plus, it's always nice to spend quality time with my favorite guy.
A few cabin neighbors invited us out for a Saturday afternoon snowmobiling ride and since we already had a babysitter around (wahoo, that never happens!), we jumped at the chance. I was a little nervous to ride in a big group of people since I've only been snowmobiling a handful of times and didn't want to embarrass myself by driving too putsy. I pulled on my big girl britches though, and Andi said I did great. It was fun, too.
Saturday evening, Andi and I went out to dinner to celebrate my birthday one last time. We tried to eat at our favorite "nice" restaurant in the area but it was packed with late Valentine's Day diners, so we ended up at an old stand-by, The Hilltop Retreat. We go to Hilltop quite a bit because it's kid friendly and they have a nice salad bar but let me tell you, it was a whole new experience eating there without the kids. Peaceful. Relaxing. Enjoyable. It reminded Andi and I of the first time we ate at Hilltop in the early days of renting our cabin. He fell in love with their tasty Wisconsin-style Old Fashioned cocktails and we had all the excitement ahead of discovering a new lake town.
On Sunday, Andi was determined to pull the ice house off the lake so that was an all-day project. Usually when you put an ice shack on a frozen lake, there's a plowed road from the boat launch which is maintained all season and allows cars and ice houses to go to and from the lake all winter. Pipe Lake isn't the best for ice fishing in the area but we wanted it to be close to our cabin, so our shack was one of only a few on our lake. There's no plowed road from the boat launch, but it wasn't a big deal because we'd just drive our Ranger ATV through the snow. Well, the weather dumped snow, snow and more snow on the lake this winter and it became increasingly difficult to get out to our ice fishing shack. The last two weeks, Andi had to drive superfast in the Ranger just so we didn't get stuck on the ice. A few times, we did get stuck and he either had to shovel or use a snowmobile and chains tied to trees on the island to pull the Ranger out. So, not ideal. With as much snow that had accumulated, he knew he wouldn't be able to pull the ice house off the lake without getting creative.
State law says all ice houses must be removed from the ice in early March, so time was running out to find a solution. If ice shacks aren't removed by the deadline, the DNR comes and burns the shacks down, so it's not really an option to leave it until the snow melts. Since there were quite a few neighbors around last weekend, but wouldn't be the case in upcoming weeks, Andi decided now was the time to move the shack.
Mid-day Sunday, Tory and I were playing outside in the snow when I saw two Ranger ATVs and the shack barreling down the ice toward the cabin. Luckily, I had my camera in my coat pocket so I snapped a few shots of them coming back to land. I swear there were times the house was skidding on two wheels. The guys were trucking moving that thing off the lake!
Somehow they managed to drive it up into the yard without running into the beach retaining wall. Maybe Andi had control of the shack, but it sure didn't look like it from my point of view. Then, the next problem was one of the trees was in the way. The guys worked for an hour or so trying to tow it from its resting spot with no luck.
Finally, our neighbor friend Joe went back to his cabin to get his big John Deere tractor. The tractor man-handled that ice house no problem and tugged it to a resting spot alongside our cabin.
It was crazy watching all that unfold and I'm sure the guys secretly loved using all their man-toys to the fullest. I'm glad it's off the ice so we won't have to worry about it anymore, but it's sad to think our ice fishing days inside the shack are over for the season. We can still fish, of course, we'd just have to put out tip ups on the ice and stand next to them. Hopefully the weather warms up a bit and it won't be too miserable to be outside without shelter.
Tory and I had fun playing in the snow before all that took place. The weather was finally tolerable Sunday (mid 20's, probably) so we were able to play outside for quite a while. I tried to pull Tory in the sled around the backyard, but the snow was seriously as deep as my thigh. So, we built snow castles with sand pails and decorated them with fallen leaves on the ground. She was having a fun time.
As exciting as it's been to go snowmobiling and ice fishing this winter, I'm definitely looking forward to the weather warming up at the cabin. Missing our cabin walks through the woods, big time. Soon enough, I hope ....