The “Man” Weekend

So this weekend was deemed the “Man” weekend, short for “Learn to be a Man” weekend.  The goal was for Alex Jopek to turn me into a full blown woodsman: chainsaw skills, axe throwing (and chopping), tractor driving, dirt biking, driving a standard (sorry, just never had the chance), hunting, gun maintenance and shooting, knife sharpening, building large project over everyone’s head, etc.

It was quite successful although we will be needing to have another go one of these upcoming weekends as we only made it through half of the list.  Macky Franklin and Jake Moritz joined us as well for the ruckus, and Alex’s brother Leif was there to help us all out.  We headed out to Leif and Alex’s house on Saturday morning, and began the day with gun safety and cleaning.  Followed by proper shooting techniques, target practice, and shooting range etiquette.  That lasted most of the day.  You can guess…BOOM!   SHHEWP!  PING!  BOOM!  KABLAM!  KAPOW!

Then a manly lunch of homemade grill fries, hotdogs, baked beans, and ketchup…all mixed up.  Damn that’s good.  Next we decided to build a giant log bridge across the river that separated Leif and Alex’s house from their father’s property.  Macky seemed to think this would be a simply process: get the tractor, attach log to tractor, drag log, SHAZAM! log is across river.  The process was a bit more extensive, and ended in true woodsman style…which we’ll get to momentarily.  We began around 4:30, and chopped the felled tree so we had a huge log roughly 40 feet long.  Then we had to woodsman-engineer a series of log rollers to let the big sucker roll out of the gully of fallen trees and rocks that it was in.  Then we hooked it up to the tractor with a series or ropes and chains and began pulling it along.  We had to go back and repeated chop out other fallen trees lying in the way, and use large log levers to lift our beast of a log on more than one occasion.  Once we finally had it out of the woods and into the lawn next to the river bank, we cross cut in lines to add traction to the top of the slippery log, and proceeded to shave off a flat section of the entire log with axes.  This would create a gorgeous surface to walk across, or rather ride a bike!  Next we began the true woodsman engineering process of arguing about what to do next to catapult the log across the river (remember this sucker weighs a couple o’ thousand pounds).  Finally, just as it was getting pretty dark, we went for it and began trying to drag/push it out over the river.  It eventually nose dove into the other side of the bank.  At this point we managed to get the log onto a large boulder, lifting it with the tractor, on our side of the river.  Once it was on this solid fulcrum, we attempted to push it down with the tractor while moving it forward onto the opposite bank.  When this failed, (at this point the entire Jopek family was outside watching and helping), Alex and I shed our clothes to head over to the other side of the river and muscle the mammoth out of the bank and up onto it.  Unfortunately we discovered we couldn’t lift more than a few hundred pounds of log past our waist (har, har, har).  At this point it was completely dark out, the bugs were eating us alive, and we were standing in frigid water.  Leif came over to join us and we struggled to get the log up out of the water, but failed.  No matter how hard we pulled, and the tractor pushed, all we managed to do was spike the log into the muddy bank.  So we called it a night and left it unfinished.  Congratulations Team Man.  Doing a project woodsman-style = not finishing it.  We successfully moved a whole big tree trunk through the yard and dropped it into the river.  Next weekend we’ll get it out…

Then we all ran up to the sauna in Alex’s father’s backyard and hopped in.  Luckily it had already been started.  We sat in the tight room and baked naked for a while, sweating heaps and cleaning out all the dirt we had acquired through the day.  Then we bolted out and down to the river to jump in.  Everyone else got in mighty quick…I stood around losing many a Man point too unexcited about the cold water to do much.  Finally I jumped in after quite a bit of persuasion, only to find everyone got out immediately.  Bummer.  Then back into the sauna to bake a bit more.  Finally we headed inside the house, had some delicious cookies that Lisa, Alex’s stepmother, made for us.  Then back to Alex and Leif’s place to throw together some dinner (at 11pm that is).  I managed to polish off most of a box of Oreo’s before the nights end.  I needa get back on some sort of healthy meal plan soon.

The next morning we headed out to a bike race.  Originally Alex and I had planned on racing along with Macky, but between the cost of the entry fee and the lack of perfectly dialed bikes, we decided it wasn’t worth the cost.  We hung around, hassled each other, created the occasional moment of Man Ruckus, and fed Macky, and Chris and Ashley, two riders from UVM.  I love feeding sweaty bike riders.  Good time.  Then to Hanover, NH to pick up Jake who had left midway through gun safety the day before.  From there we headed back to Middlebury and gorged ourselves while heckling one another.  I couldn’t seem to shake the Woodsman thing and question whether I want to go back to a student.  Those woods are calling…

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