The Saga of Our Back Yard Rink

AUTHOR: | POSTED: January 21, 2014 | COMMENTS: 9 Comments
CATEGORIES: 1015 The River, Focusing on The Joy, Glass City Parent, Home Projects,

Carolyn Savage

I built an ice rink.

Filling with enough water to quench a small desert village.

Filling with enough water to quench a small desert village.

A back yard, completely MacGyvered, money sucking, maintenance requiring ice rink.  The building process didn’t at all play out like I had planned but if that isn’t a metaphor for my life than I don’t know what is.  Nothing really ever plays out like I planned.

I need to start planning it that way.

The idea of a back yard rink, at its inception, was a bit of a pipe dream.  I had a back yard ice rink when I was a kid—for one winter—and I loved it.  I have memories of bundling up, lacing my skates, and gliding round and round until what my six year old self thought was midnight.  (In reality it was probably seven.)  It never occurred to me why my dad never build another ice rink.  At the time, I figured it was because he was too busy or that he wanted me to concentrate on more important endeavors—like neverending games of Candyland—that challenged my brain.  Not once did I consider that my dad learned the lessons that so many backyard rink owners learn.  Namely, if you want a backyard rink prepare to spend a lot of time maintaining it…in the freezing cold…with a hose…and wet shoes.

Note to self:  Learn from the actions of thy father.

Since I was a bit naive regarding the reasons for the one-hit-wonder-back-yard-ice-rink of my childhood, Sean and I decided that given the predictions of the 2014 Farmer’s Almanac, this may be a good year to give the rink a try.  So, doing what every fly-by-the-seat- of her pants back yard builder does, I researched a little on the internet and settled on the PVC pipe building method for constructing our rink. I completely skipped the repeated advice of measuring the yard for a slope.  We were building it on a basketball court.  Surely the professionals that poured the court made it level—that is—unless those same professional purposely added a slope to promote water drainage.

Lowes was thrilled with our project plans.  I hear Mr. PVC had a great Christmas!

Lowes was thrilled with our project plans. I hear Mr. PVC had a great Christmas!

Oops.

Upon realization that we had a significant slope on our court, we had to invest more money and time in materials to jack up the west side of the rink.  We swallowed the extra cost with a little bitterness but resolve.  There was no turning back at that point.  We’d already bought enough PVC pipe to provide adequate drainage for  a small African village  and don’t even get me started on the expense of the 40′ x 100′ piece of Superman plastic we purchased to act as a liner.  Mary Kate may not have her college fund any longer but dammit…she is going to skate this winter.

After constructing the rink of PVC pipe I bought a little more and built this skating trainer for MK.  At this pace I may build her first car out of PVC as well.  I'm sure there's plans for that somewhere on the internet, too.

After constructing the rink of PVC pipe I bought a little more and built this skating trainer for MK. At this pace I may build her first car out of PVC as well. I’m sure there’s plans for that somewhere on the internet, too.

The whole endeavor gets even more ridiculous when one considers the fact that not a single member of our family owns a pair of skates.  In fact, I’m the only one that actually knows how to skate and after my December foot surgery I can’t even wear a pair of shoes that weren’t purchased right out of the church lady section of the Clarks store.

Effin’ brilliant, I tell you.

There have been some bright spots in this DIY backyard rink experience.  First, the boys and MK have actually been outside more this winter than they have ever been.  Considering we’ve experienced the coldest temps in two decades I’d say the rink has been a positive reason to dislodge my children from the monotony of indoor activities to get some exercise and fresh air.  In addition,  I have to admit that when I’m doing my ice maintenance at night, wet shoes aside, there’s something about the peace of a winter’s night that has a beneficial effect on my psyche.  It reminds me of my childhood in Michigan and reinvigorates my love for outdoor winter activities.  I grew up downhill skiing.  If you’ve ever ridden a chairlift and quieted yourself enough to digest the beauty of winter… you know what I’m talking about.  It’s awesome.

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Learning...

Learning…

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I recently was invited to enter my rink in a Backyard Warriors ice rink contest.  I thought about it for one hot second but ultimately declined when I saw the entry form.  You see, the first question asked me how I overcame the slope of our yard to build the rink.  I honestly don’t have an answer for that question that doesn’t somehow expose me for the MacGyvering novice I am.  Honestly, as far as I can tell, there is not physical reason our ice rink should be operational.  I don’t think they’d take “It was divine intervention” as a satisfactory answer.  Plus, the winner gets a back yard zamboni and that, my friends, would turn this one hit wonder rink of my children’s childhood into a mandatory repeat performance.  I’m just not there yet.

I am my father’s daughter.

*****

If any of my local readers are ever looking for a place for you little ones to skate send me an email.  We are always looking for friends to play with out on the ice!

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For the recipes I talked about on 101.5 The River that go along with this post please see this post here!

9 Comments on “ The Saga of Our Back Yard Rink ”

  • Denise Stump | January 21st, 2014 1:55 pm

    What a great article. It brought back memories of the ice skates my grandparents bought me when I was 12 or 13. We would go skating at the ice rink in South Bend. They are blue with grey fur and I still have them. This article made me want to go try them on and guess what—-they still fit! Enjoy your ice rink. What memories your kids will have—and you too!

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  • Allie Gilbuena | January 21st, 2014 2:01 pm

    This makes me laugh. I never had one in my back yard, because i grew up in Portland, Oregon, where it only sometimes freezes. But if we’d lived in Ohio back then, this certainly would have been my father. And let’s be honest. If I wasn’t pregnant this winter, I certainly would’ve tried very hard to convince my husband we needed this. Hadley has been begging to skate. perhaps next year I won’t be knocked up.

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  • Carolyn Savage | January 21st, 2014 3:34 pm

    Just bring Hadley over here. You all are welcome any time!

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  • Cindy | January 21st, 2014 3:06 pm

    Here you go a PVC car. I could not help but post it.

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  • Carolyn Savage | January 21st, 2014 3:34 pm

    Oh Good Lord! LOL, Cindy!

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  • Marion Downing | January 21st, 2014 7:14 pm

    In Australia, we can’t have a pool in our yard because my husband spent his childhood cleaning his grandparents pool every Summer. I’ll have to tell him about the upsides of a pool compared to an ice rink 😀 I loved picturing MK driving around in a pipe car BTW…

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  • Stef | January 22nd, 2014 1:22 pm

    I’m just curious if any one has tried playing basketball on the ice rink?

    Hilarious post. Thanks for sharing.

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  • Hockey Wife | January 22nd, 2014 3:40 pm

    I absolutely love your (could be) one-hit-wonder back-yard rink! We have been confined to apartments for the past few years as we have traveled hockey team to hockey team, around the world. Come winter, it’s hard to keep our 5 year old away from electronics for hours upon hours without having to drive him somewhere. What I wouldn’t give for a back-yard to send my boys to! Someday, I hope I can pull off a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants rink too! Good work, Mom!

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  • Jen | January 27th, 2014 8:56 am

    I am impressed!

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