Good day friends. I bet you all thought you wouldn’t hear from me again until the winter race season started, right? Well, I’d hate to leave you all wondering just what it is that ActiveSteve does when he isn’t racing or training ;-). Hence this short little post to keep you all well informed. It’s not secret that I’m not really one to sit around eating bon-bons. If I’m not doing something, I get bored. So I guess it’s a good thing that I’m a homeowner, because there’s ALWAYS something to do when you own a house, even if it is a new house, as I’m learning. Also, given that my training and racing takes me away from home a lot, it also means that I don’t get to see some of my friends as much as I’d like, so this is also a chance to do a bit of catching up with some of my good friends, as well as spend more quality time with my best gal Deanna! This certainly won’t be a long post, so you should have no problem getting through the whole thing, as well as checking out my two sets of pictures, first being my fence re-building project, and the second being some pictures from this year’s Beau’s Oktoberfest in Vankleek Hill.
As I’m sure you’ve already pieced together from my intro, the house project that has most recently kept me a little busy was the rebuilding of my fence. One of the reasons I had chosen this house was that it was already completely enclosed by a wood fence, meaning that Mr. Jonah could have the run of the backyard to play. Well, before the winter was even in full swing last year, I noticed that the fence was starting to lean. In the dead cold of winter, I attempted to straighten it temporarily with some metal spikes, but that was a band-aid solution. Truth be told, I agonized somewhat over what I’d have to do to fix it. Fences can be pretty finicky things, and I wasn’t looking forward to doing the work, so in my mind, I thought I’d just hire someone to deal with it in the spring. Well, spring became summer, and summer was winding down, and I still hadn’t dealt with it. Those contractors I did contact all seemed to want to charge a bucketload of money for the work. Essentially, I was going to take down the fence, and was looking for someone to just dig the post holes and set the posts for me, and the prices didn’t seem reasonable.
In fact, it got to the point that I decided I might as well do it myself. After all, I’m pretty handy with stuff like that, and it was just a matter of time and sweat to get it done. I pinpointed basically the one weekend where I could do the ‘heavy work’ of digging the holes and setting the posts, and set to work researching how to do it. I settled on this: Dig a 4 foot hole. Bottom 6 inches line with gravel, then sink the posts and level them with concrete footings (inside a sonotube). Plan seemed fair. Also decided to rent a hydraulic auger rather than the hard-to-handle two-man rigs. I enlisted a few friends to come over on the Saturday and Sunday, plus Deanna’s dad, although reluctant to help, was unable to stand idly by while we worked, as predicted by Deanna :-).
I learned some new skills that weekend. And learned about soil types. My soil, clay. HEAVY, HARD, CLAY! The 4 foot holes became 3 foot holes, and the 6″ gravel eliminated, but sonotubes kept. The gravel was for drainage, but given that there was so much clay, we were more worried it would serve as a place for water to pool, freeze, and heave (since it would be much more porous than the actual soil. Once convinced to dig shallower holes, I toiled 11 hours on Saturday to get most of the holes dug. I got 9 of 11 done. It was hard work. Darcy and Matt came out to help as well, thanks guys! The next day, up early again to finish the holes and get to work on setting posts. This was a less physical task, but required a bit of finesse and thinking. After all, my panels were all pre-made, so I had to get the spacing exactly right on the posts, which was a bit tricky. Luckily, for Sunday, I had the ever-precise Dave out to help Deanna’s dad and I out. We made excellent progress, and managed to get all the posts plumb and set by the end of the day, which is exactly where I wanted to be.
Over the next week and a bit, I added back all the hardware using a water level to make sure they’d line up. Deanna gave me a hand whenever I needed it to put up the panels. Most of them went in perfectly, with a nice snug fit. I had to trim two of them, and then completely re-bulid a couple of them. I had expected that though, since I also moved my fence line along the back to line up with my actual property line. Lastly, I cut the tops off the posts and capped them. It was awesome to be done and look out into the back to see a nice strong, straight fence that I’m confident will last for years to come. Hard work, but totally worth it!
So now we get to the second part of my post, the ‘festing! Of course I’m talking about Oktoberfest here. Deanna and I were a little sad that we wouldn’t be able to make it to Kitchener for this year’s bit Oktoberfest, but it turns out there are some good options right in our own backyards now. I’m referring in this instance to the Beau’s Brewery Oktoberfest celebrations that they just held at the Vankleek Hills fairground. They’ve held it a few years now, and it appears to just keep growing each year, and getting better and better organized. They go out of their way to make this event a true Oktoberfest party. Not only do we have the many delicious beers to enjoy under authentic large beer tents, but the whole grounds are teeming with activity. There was live oompah music throughout the afternoon. There was also more modern music in the evening courtesy of The Peelers, Cuff the Duke, and the Lowest of the Low. There was also a plethora of great food on offer from many local vendors. I stuck to mainly traditional; sausages, pretzels, and strudel, all of which was awesome!
They also had a lot of games on site, including keg tosses, stein holding, malt sack races, and a spouse carrying contest. To see some of that on video, you’ll have to check it out on flickr here and here. It was a hoot. There was lot of room under the tents, which was pretty critical, given that it ended up being rather cold and rainy while we were there. Deanna and I were joined by Dave and Meghan as well as Andy and Irene-Anne, but once on site, I couldn’t believe how many people I ran into that I hadn’t seen in a long time, including both of my bandmates from Comfort Station that still live around here. Of course there was much talk of music and reunions, and hopefully that’ll materialize at least in the form of a nice jam session over the colder months!
As far as the beer selection went, it was top notch. The only problem was that they eventually started running out of all the unique brews that they had on tap, leaving us only with their best seller, the Lug Tread Ale, not that there was anything wrong with that. There was also a whole separate area for ‘cask beer’ samples. Here, there was an entire showcase of different beers available for microbreweries in Ontario and Quebec. I sampled a couple really tasty stouts while in that tent. Beaus also arranged for bus shuttles to/from downtown for those that wanted to avoid driving, which we all took advantage of. All told, it took Deanna and I about 2 hours to get from our house to the fest, between the STO bus, and OC transpo bus, and the Beau’s shuttle 🙂 Oh well, still beats driving ourselves, and we didn’t mind at all.
I must say that after attending many Oktoberfest parties in K-W, and now attending Beau’s Oktoberfest twice, I’m rather fond of the Beau’s version. The all-day fun activities really fulfilled my Oktoberfest desires, and at the end of the day, I lay my head down in my own bed, rather than facing the prospect of a hung-over 6 hour drive home. I love them both dearly, but it’s great that we do have the option of doing something locally now.
I’ll end my stories there for now, as I have to get back to other little chores and projects. Exciting stuff happening in the next few weeks, but you’ll have to wait to hear and read all about it 🙂 I promise it’ll be fun (more so for me than you my dear readers, but I hope to share it with you in some way. Cheers!