Tower Work

I got a call from my cousin on Saturday afternoon, asking me if I could stop by in the next day or so and climb his tower (60' freestanding) to see if I could determine the problem he was having with has Yagi antenna (it was spinning on the mast and most recently had a bit of a tilt to it as well). I called him back later in the evening to tell him that I could stop by on Sunday afternoon for an hour or two to examine things and make repairs if possible. He informed me when I called him that he had found part of a U-bolt on the ground...

The problem was quite...interesting, with a lot of luck (we call it "Golden Horseshoe"):

The antenna is held onto the mast with two 1 1/2" U-bolts, an upper one and a lower one. The upper bolt was broke on the left side, so it was basically working like a hook, with the right side still attached. The lower bolt was just the opposite, the right side being broken and the left side still attached. The antenna had slid down the mast about 4" and stopped when it reached a piece of tin that is attached to the mast to deflect the rainwater running down the mast from all entering the rotator.

I had climbed the tower with the two replacement U-bolts in my pocket, figuring that only one of the two bolts was broken, and that I should be able to remove the broken one and replace it with the good U-bolt, and then remove the remaining good U-bolt and replace it with a new one for good measure. However, because of the way that the antenna was attached (or rather not attached), there was no easy safe way of making the repairs. The correct answer would have been to reattach the antenna temporarily to the mast some other way (or at least hoist it in place), then remove and replace the broken bolts. I simply didn't have the equipment to do so however. I was afraid that moving the antenna much at all would cause the whole thing to come down, cleaning everything that was on the tower below it off (including me). The wind was already causing it to move more than I was really comfortable with.

Our solution was, well, not the prettiest, although it should keep the antenna on the mast for another week until he can make the repairs:

He will end up renting a 80' lift to make the repairs (that how the antenna was installed in the first place). It's an expensive repair, but as he put it, just part of owning the tower.

Ness Works To Balance Duluth's Budget

Hats off to Mayor Don Ness for working to get a grip on Duluth's 5.4 million budget woes. The mayor has come to realize that Duluth cannot continue to operate on a budget that isn't balanced, and has made some pretty significant proposals to fix the budget, almost all involving cuts in city services, including police and fire.

While it's unfortunate that the city must reduce it's services to the people, the people must realize that at the current level of income the city can no longer afford to do what it's done in the past. The income must go up or the expenses must go down. Ness' answer is to do both, although it appears to strongly favor reducing the expenses rather than raising the income. The plan affects all city departments, and at first glance appears to take away a lot of the amenities that a certain portion of residents enjoy (such as free wireless in the Canal Park area, ceasing funding of city-funded adult leagues, lifeguards at Park Point, etc). It does also affect the city as a whole in some aspects (the previously mentioned reductions in the police and fire departments for one).

It will be interesting to see how the council reacts to the proposed budget. Up to now, it seems (to me anyway) that the council and the mayor are doing some finger pointing back and forth, and the council doesn't seem to like to make the tough decisions to deal with the longstanding problems that Ness is addressing.

Spring 2008 MnGCA Event

The weekend after Memorial Day I took the family up to Gooseberry State Park on the north shore for some wonderful camping and to participate in the MnGCA Gooseberry Falls: Caching Then and Now event.

We arrived early on Friday afternoon, got the camper setup, and headed off to see the falls. After we took the customary pictures of the falls with the girls, I headed across the river to complete the Hiking Club trail and do the State Park History Challenge cache in the park. Funny story about that........

I started out on the Hiking Club trail (it's 2.2 miles in this case) as the skies were starting to get pretty dark and a cool breeze was moving in. Shortly into the hike my right boot literally fell apart in the span of about a half mile. It started out as a small hole where the leather meets the sole and ended up starting at the left side of the toe and wrapping halfway around the shoe on the other side. Not good as it was my only pair of shoes for the weekend.

While hiking along, I decided to return a call to EskoClimber, as he had called me earlier when I was in an area with virtually no service. While talking to him (and I totally blame him for this), I took some photos of the hike, got a picture of the Hiking Club sign (I take photos of them all so I don't forget what the password was later on), and then continued on my hike. When I got about 3/4 of the way done, I realized that when I called him, the GPS said 400' to the cache. By the time I remember to check it again it said something like .35 miles. I ended up walking right past the cache (literally about 30' from it). Esko's fault.

I finished the loop that I was on, then went down it again to get the cache, just as the sprinkles started. Thanks to Esko I ended up hiking about an extra mile that I didn't really care to, not that I don't need the hike...

On Saturday I was able to enjoy much of the event (excellent weather!) and the folks that attended. My hats off again to the whole group that was able to put together a great event. I competed in the competition, although I've already managed to forget how many finds I had (something around 12 in 2 hours and 4 minutes I believe).

I was fairly surprised at how empty the campground was. I would have to estimate that it was under half full for the weekend - perhaps 1/3 full. Pretty empty for a north shore park on a weekend between Memorial Day and Labor Day... I wonder how much the gas prices are going to affect the State Parks....?

Pictures from the weekend can be found here.

Memorial Day Weekend

Ok, so I'm a little late...

We headed up to Itasca State Park south of Bemidji for Memorial Day weekend this year. It was a very enjoyable time, although a little shorter than I am accustomed to. Normally for the holiday weekends we're able to sneak away on a Thursday to grab an extra day of camping, but this year my wife had to work on Friday and the distance from Duluth was such that it didn't make sense to leave until lunchtime on Friday.

Overall the weekend was very enjoyable - the weather was mostly cooperative, although we did have a little rain and some decent sized hail on Sunday.

While there I managed to do the nice State Park History Challenge multi-cache with my Dad as well as getting a couple caches with G on the return trip.

Definitely a good start to the camping year - I'm looking forward to getting out some more yet this year!


Ok, so I've been slacking a bit. I promise to try and get up to date sometime soon... Things I'm hoping to post about include Memorial Day weekend, the Spring MnGCA event, and some interesting Duluth issues... Hopefully I'll get caught up on Sunday (as it's not going to happen tonight).

Another Fishing Opener Come and Gone

Another opener has come and gone, with a new set of fun (and not-so-fun experiences).

The highlights:

Throwing back 6# and 7# walleyes because you've reached your limit for walleyes over 20" (this was originally put here as good, although it's also kind of a bummer in a weird way).

Having the tent leak from above enough to soak your sleeping bag, pillow, and blanket. There's a bit of a story behind this. It involves the first snowfall that stuck to the ground that Jamie can recall in his 30+ years of making the fishing trip. We got enough snowfall that I believe it stretched the fabric of the tent enough to allow the moisture to drip through. Since we had a heater in the sleeping portion of the tent, there was plenty of moisture to drip.

At about 12:30am I woke up to drips hitting my pillow. About 1am Jamie woke up and told me he was getting wet. By 1:30am it was pretty constant. We all just went into a survival mode, tucked deep inside our sleeping bags, and hoped we'd stay dry and warm inside the bag until morning when we could sort out the mess (which we did). Another new camping experience for me.

Pictures from the long weekend are here.

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