Monday, March 21, 2005

Just like that...It's over

We had a great run this winter and now it's done. The rink is melting fast and furious. We skated for the last time about a week ago and then it snowed 5" on Friday. I shoveled to heavy snow off with hope the gang would want to skate again, but it was simply an exercise session for me as no one wanted to skate over the weekend. With yesterday's 40°F and bright sun, it pretty much toasted the rink. We've had warmer temps but the sun is really high now and that's the real killer.

So we had a great season on the rink. We skated about 2 out of three days it was skatable the whole winter. There was a week when it was brutally cold, and then the week when it got super hat with record heat in the 50s which left us in the skating lurch for about five days while I was resurrecting the thing. Most of the later half of Feb and early March was good.

Next year I'll do a bit more tracking of days and use. I think that'd be kind of fun to see how much it did or didn't get used.

It's great all the kids got out and skated. Evie became very good, Josie was out and on skates moving around and getting up on her own for the last two weeks. Henry just had fun and Trip was honing his stick-handling skills to give his dad a run next year. He's really improved over the span of the season.

So now we're off to the new project of maple syruping. We tapped our trees on Saturday and it's starting to run. Check out our syrup blog.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

What Winter!?

This was from today.
This weather is really for non-humans. Now, rather than the deep freeze, it's been super warm. Right now it's sunny and 50°F. The rink is melting away fast and there's nothing I can do about it. Any little piece of bark dropping onto the ice seems to instantly bore a deep hole into the ice, at least taht's how it seems every time I sheepishly look at the thing.
It should get cooler naxt week, but who knows how tough it'll be to get 'er back into skating shape

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

What a Difference a Week Makes

After complaining about no snow and bitter cold this winter, this week happened. Last Friday we got blasted with 8.7" of snow. Getting it all off the rink was a task, but our friends from across the street came over with their snow blower and helped a lot. The good news is that I was not here to help out. I was off living my selfish life participating in a ski race while Deb and the kiddies dealt with the snow for 24 hours. All was good, the snow was cleared and the kids were skating away again.

I got out my newfangled ice resurfacer which has been working like a charm. This morning the ice was literally as smooth as glass, then it got warm out. 44°F this afternoon. I came home to standing water on the rink. All is well though, the temps are going to drop to normal again tomorrow and for the foreseeable future. Now we can get back into a good routine.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Man, It's Been Cold Out There

The deep freeze seems to be over for a day at least. The kids have NOT been doing their daily skating and I have NOT been doing my daily resurfacing due to the cold temps. The last five nights have been really chilly
and we've only been out one time in the last five days due to the cold...but
that'll all change today I think.

Here are the last five days' highs and lows.

Thu, January 13-10°F25°F
Fri, January 14-17°F-1°F
Sat, January 15-13°F1°F
Sun, January 16-11°F4°F
Mon, January 17-14°F3°F
Tue, January 18-6°F24°F

*Yes, this is air wind chills here!

Thursday, January 13, 2005

The Cold's a Comin'

We've had a decent run of good weather, but the bottom's about to drop out. Look like this weekend we'll be having highs below 0°F and lows in the teens below zero. We're inside this weekend. These were taken this morning. Temperature is 12°F now.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

A Little Snow (for a change)

It finally snowed last evening...a whopping 0.7 inches bringing our winter total to a staggering 3.1 inches (that's over 21" below normal). The boys and I were out at the park with the Mite hockey teams scrimmaging while Deb went out on the rink with Evie, Josie and a few friends who stopped by.

I shoveled ALL that snow and flooded this morning. Looks like this weekend the bottom's gonna drop out with highs below 0°F.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

This is GREAT FUN!!

Everyone should do this. The kids just love it, even in the cold. I was out there with the kids playing hockey for 90 minutes last night an we had so much fun! There was tons of snow (ice shavings) all over the ice after all the play. A quick shovel and 15 minutes of flooding and we're good to go for today.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

It's a Routine Now

They-'re out there again. Every afternoon and evening the gang is out skating. Then every night I go out and shovel and flood. Henry and Evie were out there tonight for over an hour with Evie's friend Matthew and it was only 13°F.

Monday, January 03, 2005


The weather is chilly at 10°F. The boys had hockey practice outside at the park tonight, and they wanted to skate at home when we got back. So I laced up my skates and was out there with them for less than 10 minutes when it happened.

Trip and I were playing and we were both going after the puck when his stick went a little high and tagged me at the side of my eye. Gave me a little split and a fair amount of blood. He felt terrible about it and that was the end of the skating last night. I should have gone in for a stitch or two but decided I was too old for that and a new scar could only help my appearance.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

This weather is UNREAL!

Ok, 50° just a few days ago and now this! It started raining yesterday evening, then the sleet started. We had thundersleet last night. Almost 1 1/2 inches of little ice pellets accumulated, and of course after sitting for six hours they all welded together to form and solid sheet of hard packed ice all over everything.

I had to take an ace scraper to the rink to get this stuff off. It took 2 1/2 hours to scrape it all and remove it leaving behind a bumpy surface. I reflooded with a small layer and it smoothed it all out. The kids are appreciative and the neighbors are shaking their heads in disbelief as none of them even tackled their own sidewalk.

Out skating we go.

Friday, December 31, 2004

It's nice and frozen now

All that water refroze, and along with it the litter, pine needles, pieces of bark, etc. I had to get the ice scraper out and shave it all off, then take a LEAF BLOWER of all things to blow the debris off the rink.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Just when things are good, they go BAD!

Christmas has come and gone and we've been skating fiends. Then today is decided to be really warm. It got up to 50°F today and the rink is melting badly. It's just typical of this winter, which is not winter at all it seems. Today was not only a record high temperature, but the warmest it's been here this late in the year in almost 100 years. Of course it's windier than a Kansas tornado out there too, causing the trees to drop all kinds of litter into the new pool (I hesitate to call it a rink now). NICE!

I out I go to try to pick up the litter before it gets cold and locks it in.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Just like that, we're skating

All is well, though it's a bit cold. Last night (12/23/04) it was -13°F and the night before was -10°F. So the rink is good and solid for skating. I went out there today, Christmas Eve, for the first time and we had a great time. The boys were out there yesterday in below zero temps, but kids don't care about that kind of stuff. The ice is really nice, though there are just a few bumps from the frost and snow that fell during the fill.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Good News (and some bad)

Well my calculations were about right on. It took 19 1/2 hours to fill up the rink. Checking the water meter there are now some 9,500 gallons of water in there pressing on all sides of the liner and boards. The temperature is cold (-1°F) looking for a low of about -7°F tonight. This is the good news. Should be able to walk on it by tomorrow afternoon, Thursday for sure after -10°F tomorrow night.

The bad news is that the liner has a leak, and I suspect it's a bad part of the main seam. I'm seeing some light buildup of runoff water seeping out from under the rink. With this cold it just freezes, and I'm hopeful that four straight nights of below zero weather will freeze the rink down to the seam which is about half way down the slope of the yard and about 10" deep.

That's the way it goes I guess.

On pins and needles

Great! (not)

It snowed about half inch last night. And the temperature is falling like a rock. It's 7°F and falling.

The rink is about half full after 8 hours of filling. It's freezing very fast and I'm wondering if the crust of ice is gonna scrape against the sides as the water underneath keeps rising. All I need now is a tear in the liner and we're screwed.

The snow has made a slushy mess but that can be fixed later if it fills properly with no tears.

Gotta keep filling and hope it all works out. It should be full by about 4:00PM today. It'll be -8°F tonight and not get above 0 for the next two days. We'll see how it goes.

It's filling up!

I took the liner outside tonight and put it in place. Seaming up the tree was trickier than I thought. The tape was not sticking at all. The temperature was about 30°F. So I went in and got my wife's hair drier to warm the plastic and tape up. This seemed to do the trick as the tape stuck much better.

Once the collar seam was done I up rolled out the entire plastic liner...all 2000 square feet of it. Once in place I got the hose, and with great trepidation I turned it on.

There wasn't a breath of wind when I seamed the tree in, but now at 12:45AM the wind is blowing and the temps are falling. 26°F right now with a few little flakes of snow. The forecast is calling for some bitter cold over the next few days so if it fills properly we should be skating by Christmas Eve.

Monday, December 20, 2004

The moment of truth!

Last night I fabricated the collar for the tree. I just piled on the duct tape and am hoping for the best.

The temperature is getting colder and I'm ready to put in the liner and start filling.

Framing is DONE

OK...Now that the boards are all up and all the gaps under the boards are filled and that cardboard is covering all rough corners to prevent the plastic from tearing...I've started work on the plastic liner.

This year I decided to use double sided indoor/outdoor carpet tape in the middle of the seam and then duct tape the two flaps down. This is definitely the way to go. I made sure to wipe the plastic with turpentine to remove the oily film so the tape would stick better (I learned this from last year's disaster).

Once the tape was in place I pressed it together with a wallpaper seam roller which works perfect.

Now all I have to do is form the collar within the liner to go around the tree! YIKES!

Friday, December 17, 2004

A First Entry for 2004-2005

This is the first entry of the rink blog for 2004-2005.

It's been a slow start to the ice rink season here in Minnesota. Usually things are good to go by December 1st, but this year has seen really warm conditions and temperatures which aren't so good for the type of rink we have in our front yard.

As of right now the frame walls are complete and reinforced, ready for the gap-reduction program. If that sounds confusing let me explain.

The flattest part of our property is the front yard (which isn't so flat), so that's where we have to build. Last year we made a rink 32'x24'. You can check that whole thing out on last year's blog. Last year's rink had a depth difference of 14" from the shallow end of the rink to the deep end.

This year we decided to expand the rink to be 46'x32'. So now the depth difference is a rather large 18" from shallow to deep.

Building the boards with this kind of terrain difference has its challenges. We have the outside boards up with the deep end boards propped up with bricks so the top of the boards is the same level throughout (I used a water level for this, and what a handy simple device that is). But at the deep end there is a gap of about 14" between the ground and the bottom of the 2x12 boards. I need to fill this gap if I'm to get the plastic barrier to hold the water.

Shallow End

Deep End

Also, I can't just put in a little water and freeze then put in more and freeze again because the shallow end will be exposed, and because we have dogs and kids and a neighborhood full of other kids the risk of puncture is too great so the whole thing must be filled at one time then set to freeze.

So, I basically have to build a large wading pool out of wood, screws, nails, plastic and lots of water.

So that's where we are.