Truly tuckered, (TUCARD 2021)

Maine’s Totally Unnecessarily Complicated Adventure Race And Duathlon (TUCARD, pronounced “tuckered,” because it tires you out) is a wonderful and insane event. No race route, complex terrain, boats, kayaks, bicycles… And an unbelievably complex rule set. The rules are a hoot to read:

Marsh Island Trail Runners: TUCARD 2021

This thing is crazy. And crazy fun. And this year, much to my surprise, I happened to win the race. I did so by running on trails, bushwhacking through dense and soaking forest, striding bravely into streams, frenetically bicycling down a dirt road, kayaking across Pushaw lake, kayaking across Caribou Bog, dragging the kayak across the bog, and finally running on more trails and through more water to arrive 8 miles and an hour and a half later.

Bafore the final race rules and way points are released you start planning and thinking and wondering where you might have to go. Here are some of my efforts. In particular I was searching for the golden ticket, a hidden waypoint that would allow you to skip all the other way points if you found it. Brian did give us a clue in the form of a riddle in a poem:

On a trail, clearly seen, / Far from tar, in between / A wet moose and a not / That dry caribou / Lies your path, in two sheds, / One on earth, and it’s said / You can see where it flows / Right in front of you

There’s an island in Pushaw lake called Moose Island. So I reasoned that the golden ticket was between the island and the bog. So, before the race began I went exploring virtually and physically.

Solving the puzzle in the poem… Searching for the golden ticket.
Sleuthing for the golden ticket
Biking in the woods looking for some thing that I don’t know how to identify.
One location I considered. I considered it enough that I even took a photo of it. Turns out, this is exactly where the golden ticket was.
Another location I visited. As it turns out, I laid around through this exact spot after the transition from the swamp.
I biked through water as part of my sleuthing. The sleuthing was very satisfying!
Katie and Jacob assist with set up the day of the race. Katie knows the craziness which is coming, and is enjoying it. Jacob, however is leery of his first tucard race.
Racers inside the starting circle
This is what a waypoint looks like. One stick with each racer’s name. Waypoint Pink
Katie watches at Waypoint pink, which was on the Forbes camp on Pushaw lake. That might be me and the distance.
The golden ticket! Just where I had once guessed. But not where I had suspected…
Mom and dad painfully wait at the finish circle.
Jacob arrives after a grueling slog, but in good spirits!
I complete my timing work sheet
Truly tuckered: Jacob and Nils and I have to then complete the race in reverse to collect our stranded kayaks and bicycles again… This was an unforeseen extra ordeal.
Now paddling back across Pushaw lake… so tuckered!
The wounds of an adventurer.


While looking at the Guinness book of world records recently, Reid and Liam and I were delighted about how specific and detailed the record categories are becoming. For example, world record for the longest time juggling seven potatoes and one bowling ball. Largest number of people to stand on one table that is also underwater when everyone is wearing helmets. Etc. I am making these up, but you get the point.

With this kind of logic, The difference between world records and unique events gives way. World records are simply the first person to ever do a particular thing, and there after the person to do that particular thing most rapidly or whatever. Naturally, we started wondering about what unique events and conditions we ourselves have created.

There are, of course, many things that count. For example, recently Liam and Reid have been timing themselves as they race to step on all of the stones in our new garden walkway. We started timing ourselves. I think I was the first to break the 10 second barrier. However, Reid is now fastest, with a time below eight seconds. Thus, he is absolutely the world record holder at that event, but mostly because no one other than the three of us have ever even attempted it.

This brings us to Fonlemeglistartkaineldreden.

Fonlemeglistartkaineldreden is a word that I invented with a high school friend named Nathan Todd. We were very creative. We were also deeply into absurdist and nonsensical humor. The point of the word, however was to create a word that no one had ever said before. I think we were probably successful. Thus, we are only created it but we memorized it. We gave it some kind of meaning as well. As I recall, it is connected to the dog like a deity named “Fonlespot.”

The point is, not that this is a world record. Point is that no one has ever said Fonlemeglistartkaineldreden, unless they learned it from Nathan, or me. And now, my children. However, just to be sure, Nathan and I went to step further. We realized that, Given the nature of human creativity and human language, the probability that someone had said a word which was somewhat similar was too close for comfort. So we went further.


That little beauty right there has 18 syllables, and although they are not random, they are pretty darn close. I don’t know how many different syllables or morphemes exist in English or another languages, but assuming it is, say 10, that would imply that the chance of someone saying, or even intentionally creating a word of that length which turned out to be the same would be something on the order of one in Sextillion.

In other words, no one has ever said or thought of fonlebackmegliswogargytartmeredkainelwaterdredenshlet unless you learned it from Nathan or from me or people who learned it from us. A world record, of a sort.

Fun stuff.

Life Science Presentation!

Liam and Reid’s Life Science Presentation, April 8, 2021!

Liam and Reid studied life sciences with me this semester, the culmination of which was a presentation on microscopic life, the definitions of life, and their investigation of microscopic life in various water bodies in the woods near our house. Grandma Marie and Grandpa Topher joined us as an honorary audience. The boys did a great job, I thought!

Penobscot river trails…

Look at these young men. It’s hard to believe how fast they are growing.
Look at this young gentleman. He is now 11 years old!
It is difficult to catch all four of these fast people in one frame.
The crew takes a break
Here we are at the warming hut. One of three or so.
“Warming hut?“ more like Alpine ski lodge!
Look at this gorgeous timber frame interior!
Even the old houses are sturdily built all season beauties. It’s like Canada!

Slack line!

uncle Brian and aunt Anna gave us a slack line for Reid‘s birthday!
We all gave it a try
at first the kids used ropes to stay balanced
And there is a balance line as well
And now the kids are truly learning to balance with no support. We time each other and they are getting better and better and better! Liam has balanced for 40 seconds.