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Monday, March 23, 2015

Cheap LED Track Light Hack

Taking down the large ceiling light fan unit

6-light track light system

We finally updated our kitchen light! Say good bye to the old ceiling fan unit and say hello to track lights! Even though M and I originally wanted recessed lights, we settled on a less invasive system. The track lights would require no ceiling cutouts and, as an added bonus, they did not hang as low as the ceiling fan so that helped open up our tiny kitchen just as much as recessed lights.

The trick to save on an LED track light system is to buy a halogen track system and switch out the inefficient halogen bulbs to efficient LED bulbs. One 3-light LED track system was $100 whereas one 3-light halogen system was only $30. The LED bulbs were only $40, so the total for our custom 6-light system was $100 instead of $200 if we purchased the prefabricated LED system.

When we pulled down the ceiling fan, the junction box was a nonstandard size so we had to screw in an all purpose cross bar which only cost $3. After putting the cross bar in, we connected the wires and screwed the mounting plate in place. We then screwed the track into the ceiling along the mounting plate, connecting the two pieces together with a straight fitting connector. Once that was done, M connected the power feed into the track and then screwed in the plate to cover the power box. We then twisted the bulbs into the track lights and locked them onto the tracks. Overall, this took us about an hour to complete, excluding having to run to the store to get the cross bar.

2 - Patriot Lighting halogen 3-light track light system, $60
6 - LED bulbs, $40
1 - All purpose cross bar, $3
1 - Straight fit connector , $4
TOTAL $107

Taking down the large ceiling light fan unit

Exposed wires: black = hot, white = neutral

Connecting the wires to the track light power supply, white goes white, black goes to black

Screwing in the all purpose cross bar

Power supply plate goes over cross bar, screw into place

Screw track onto mount and into ceiling joist

Power supply and one track installed on the ceiling

Installed 2nd track with straight fit connector. M connected power supply into track

Cover the power box

Twist light into place

M twisting track light unit into place

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Sam Campbell Memorial Trail - Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest

Johnny, Nikki, and M snowshoeing on Sam Campbell Loop Trail

February 7, 2015

After a month of no internet, I can finally post what I wanted to from a month ago even though the snow has melted in WI.

M and I met up with our friends Johnny and Nikki in Eagle River, WI for a weekend of snowshoeing and ice fishing. We explored the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest with a quick visit to the Sam Campbell Memorial Trail. The trail was named after the naturalist and was made to follow areas he described in his writings. Though we only hiked the loop, there was a spur trail which led to a lookout point at Fourmile Lake and went further on towards Vanishing Lake.

To get to the trail head, we drove on squirrely but nicely plowed roads and parked at the designated lot. A large sign detailed who Sam Campbell was marked the entrance along with trail information. The trail itself was packed down from previous visitors so it made for easy snowshoeing. Along the way, we passed an elevation marker of 1700 feet which reminded us that we were in the highlands of WI.

The many rolling hills and beautifully quiet forest gave us the solitude we were looking for and if you want to explore a short but gorgeous trail, then the Sam Campbell loop is perfect. Hiking this loop in summer would also be great especially when the foliage grows in.

At the trailhead of Sam Campbell Loop

Map of the hike. We did the brown loop on the right of the map.

Starting off on the well packed snowshoe trail on Sam Campbell Loop

Undulating hills along the hike. Going downhill 

Slope of the terrain around us

Gorgeous matchstick forest along Sam Campbell  Loop

Rest stop with Nikki, Johnny, and Matt

Sam Campbell Loop

Boardwalk along the trail even though it was covered in snow

Sam Campbell Loop

Sam Campbell Loop, trail zigzagging through the forest

Fallen trees along Sam Campbell Loop

Sam Campbell Loop

Sam Campbell Loop

We found a snowman tree on the hike

Beautiful views on Sam Campbell Loop

Gorgeous tall trees along the trail

Sam Campbell Loop

Elevation marker along Sam Campbell Loop
The 4 of us! Almost done!

The last portion of the 1.7 mile loop

Sam Campbell Loop

Finished the Sam Campbell Loop!