August 22, 2017

Eclipse Trip AAR

Tl, Dr: It was amazing, and worth every part of the trip.

Friday, after work, I got home and loaded up the truck.  Tent, sleeping pad, camp gear box, cooler, folding chair, dog food, etc.  When I'm camping alone, I tend to be a fairly minimalist camper.  Yes, I do like SOME comforts, like my French Press coffee mug and a bottle of bourbon, but for the most part I don't take a lot.  I also topped off the tank with gas, plus an additional 5 gallon gas can, packed a bag with a few clothes, and grabbed a few books on the Kindle to read.

Saturday morning, hit the road about 0800, drove up to Glendo, Wyoming, and topped off the tank again.  This gave me a full tank, plus 5 gallons, which I figured would be plenty to get me home, heavy traffic notwithstanding.

I pulled off the paved road (how EVERY good adventure should start, right?) and drove into the Medicine Bow National Forest a ways, finally pulling off about here, and found myself a flat spot on the ground.



A few minutes to set up the tent, and I commenced to start drinking beer and reading my book.  Spent the afternoon finishing "Never Call Me a Hero", which is a wonderful read about a WWII Navy Pilot, Jack "Dusty" Kleiss, who assisted in sinking two Japanese carriers and a Cruiser during the Battle of Midway.  Highly recommended.

Sunday morning, woke up to the sun peeking through the trees, shining light upon the rock formation just west of my campsite.




I brewed some coffee, and got busy making some eggs.  For those who don't know, if you're camping and your stove is really good at boiling water, but really lousy at doing a slow simmer/medium-low heat, you can still make a great plate of eggs:  At home, before you leave, crack a handful of eggs into a container you can seal (I use a pint jar with a ring and lid), add some shredded cheese, diced ham, a few handfuls of diced bell peppers, etc., and shake the heck out of it.  At camp, pour a measure of this into a ziplock type bag, get as much air out as you can, and put the bag into a pot of water at a high boil.  About 15 minutes later, remove the bag from the water, carefully open the bag, and slide the eggs out onto your plate.  Very light and fluffy eggs for breakfafst!  


After breakfast and coffee, put the dogs in the truck and drove a bit to Douglas to get a bag of ice (what I had wasn't going to last another day and half, and I didn't want my food to spoil).  One of the things you notice about Wyoming, other than the ever present wind, is just how much open and empty land there is.  You can drive for MILES and never see another car, another person, or any buildings or structures at all.  It's really a wide open, vast, isolated, and empty place.

My idea of paradise, in other words.



Having returned to the campsite with a 20 pound bag of ice for the cooler, I discovered I now had a few more neighbors than I did on Saturday.  Many of them were annoying, and I was considering relocating my camp further into the forest, just to get a bit more solitude. 


Then this happened.


This young lady asked if she could put up her tent near mine, and as she was traveling alone, and me being all chivalrous and all, I couldn't say no.  Besides, how do you say no to a body like that, in a dress like that?

She came by later for a beer, and we made small talk.  That's when she mentioned her husband and two children.

*sigh*

At any rate, did some more reading, let the dogs chase rabbits a while, then I had some dinner, we talked a while, and I turned in for the night.

Monday was the big day, obviously.  My cell phone camera can't do the eclipse justice, but here's a photo during totality.



To say it was surreal would be an understatement.  This is possibly one of the 5 coolest things I've done in my lifetime.  It was like dusk, in all directions, at 11:45 am.  The birds fell silent, the temperature dropped some 15 degrees or so, and it was just awesome to see.

I'd already broken down my camp and had everything loaded in the truck that morning, so as soon as totality was over, I took a quick piss and started driving towards home.

Knowing that I-25 was going to be the preferred route for everyone from Casper to Cheyenne, I opted for the back roads.

I drove on route 7 south, took a right at FR 710 and went until it connected to rout 61, which took me south to US 30, just North of Rock River.


I was not alone on these back roads, as others along the National Forest had the same idea.  I dare say that some of the free range cattle along the road were thinking "What the hell?  We ain't never seen this many cars in a year, let alone in a single day..."

South of Bosler, traffic slowed a bit, due mostly to the sheer volume of vehicles and a bit of construction in Laramie.


Finally, once past Laramie, as some cars cut west, others cut east, traffic opened up a bit, and I was home an hour and a half or so later.  Unloaded the truck, took a shower, went out for a pint, and was asleep by 2100 hours.

Total of 355 miles driving, the better part of three days, and one amazing experience that I wouldn't have wanted to miss.





August 18, 2017

Assorted and Sundry

I've been trying to do this blogging thing more often/regularly, but I can't seem to find the motivation.

Life at Chateau JBro FoCo has settled into a bit of a dull routine.  Wake up, walk dogs, shower, go to work, come home in the evening, watch some TV, drink a beer or two, go to bed.  I really need to get out of the apartment more, but I'm trying to maintain my frugality.

Work is... well, work.  Getting a bit frustrated with the resistance of some in the office to make changes in the way we do things.  "We've never done that in the past" and "We've always done it this way" are the two most annoying phrases in the workplace, IMHO (well, aside from "We're out of coffee") and it's annoying as hell.  I find myself spending far more time looking for information that I should, just to fix an issue that shouldn't take this long to fix.

That aside, I've also proven my worth to the bosses -- I took on a new client, set them up the RIGHT way from the start, and after a few wrinkles got worked out in the first couple months, we've heard nary a word from them about any technical issue since.  That translates into 8 billable hours of revenue a month per their contract, with about 0.5 hours of work a month.  Or, roughly, $1,125 a month of pure profit.  "You're welcome" seems accurate.

I've had it up to here with politics, and want nothing to do with the most vocal folks on either side of the spectrum.  I'm beyond disgusted with the behavior of many people, and think y'all need a damn timeout.  Not every conservative is a white supremacist, not every liberal is Antifa, not every minority is a BLM or La Raza supporter, and I really thought we were better than the name calling and finger pointing that we see today.

I'll be headed to Wyoming (along with 50% of Colorado residents, it seems) this weekend to see the eclipse on Monday.  I've scouted some area just southeast of Casper, lots of National Forest land, and I'll just find a flat spot, throw the tent on the ground, and enjoy a weekend in the wilderness.  Some reports that the population of Wyoming is expected to double this weekend -- recall that the state only has roughly 530,000 residents -- and that's going to be interesting.  I'm going to pack a gas can with a few extra gallons, just to be safe, and I'll be avoiding I-25 as much as humanly possible.  It's possible, and actually PROBABLE, that I stay until late Monday evening, maybe head for home around 8p, just to avoid the gridlock that is expected on the interstate.

Pulled an Over The Counter elk tag for this fall.  Buddy of mine and I have an area we'll hunt.  Figure a 5 day stretch should be sufficient.  If I get an elk, great.  If not, so be it.

Really looking forward to Blogorado this year.  I've got some home brewed beers I'll be taking down, along with some beer-grain bread and a few other tasty treats.  I miss my tribe, and need the recoil therapy in a bad way.

New truck is doing just great.  Had it in for an oil change Wednesday, and everything was pretty normal for a truck with 70,000 miles.  About the only complaint I could lodge is the fuel efficiency -- 17 mpg on the highway isn't what I'd consider "good", but I can live with it.

Anyway, that's about it.  Life's pretty decent, all things considered.

August 4, 2017

Words Matter Rant

I like to think of myself as a man possessed of a decent vocabulary.  No, I'm not the wordsmith that LawDog is, nor that of Ambulance Driver, but I've got a pretty solid grasp on what words mean, and more importantly, what they DON'T mean.

And one thing I've noticed, and this started some years ago but has gotten noticeably worse in the last year or so, is the propensity of people to use a word that doesn't mean at all what they think it means.

To wit:

"This senator DESTROYED the President with a single tweet!"

"With just four words, a high school student ANNIHILATED his teacher's criticism!"

"Reading this will make liberal's heads EXPLODE!"


OK, first, let's admit that we all engage in a bit of hyperbole now and then, and it's understandable.  But are we really to the point where we can't come up with a better turn of phrase?

Because the President wasn't "DESTROYED!", in point of fact.  He still exists.  He's still President.  The atoms and molecules that make up his body are, well, still atoms and molecules.

Ditto the teacher.  Dictionary.com tells us that "annihilate" is defined thus:

1. to reduce to utter ruin or nonexistence; destroy utterly:
The heavy bombing almost annihilated the city.
2. to destroy the collective existence or main body of; wipe out:
to annihilate an army.
3. to annul; make void:
to annihilate a law.
4. to cancel the effect of; nullify.
I suggest that the teacher in question remains in existence, hasn't been "wipted out", and isn't annuled or voided.

I won't expand on the exploding head thing, because that would mean brains all over the place, and I just mopped.

But these sensationalist "click bait" titles are getting annoying, and I'v gotten to the point where if I see one, I can guaran-damn-tee you that I won't bother looking at it.



August 2, 2017

Local Shooting

Back on July 23rd, there was a bit of a scuffle at a WalMart down in Loveland, which is just south of me by 12-13 miles or so.

The local District Attorney has decided to not press charges after the investigation revealed the shooter acted in self-defense.

The interesting thing, to me at least, was this line:

According to the affidavit, Anderson was convicted in Jefferson County of dangerous drugs charges in 2005 and 2009, and sentenced to prison for five years and six years, respectively.


So a (twice) convicted felon had a firearm.

I want to know why he wasn't charged for that.


A Fungus Among Us

Strange dreams last night, assorted and sundry, but the one I remember vividly was that I noticed that on my dog Jake's right front leg, there were mushrooms growing on his skin.

I have no idea what the heck that's supposed to mean.

FWIW, in the dream, the veterinarian applied some sort of cream, the mushrooms fell off wholly intact, and he was fine.

Anyway, happy hump day.

July 26, 2017

Glad to Know Every Real Problem Is Solved Now

I'm awfully glad that President Trump and the GOP have already solved the problems with:

-- Immigration

-- Our troops fighting in wars we have no business fighting

-- The economy and the stagnant job growth and wage growth

-- Healthcare and the debacle that is the ACA

-- North Korea

-- Iran

-- Our country being $20 trillion in debt

-- Etc. etc. etc.

Those must be solved already, right?  Why else would he focus one damn moment on whether or not transgender people can serve in the military?

Dear GOP: Do you want to get shellacked in 2018 and 2020?  Because this is how you get shellacked in 2018 and 2020.

#Idiots

July 24, 2017

THAT Was a Damn Fine Weekend

Buddy of mine and I decided to do some scouting for elk hunting season, and after some discussion and some inspection of maps and satellite imagery and such, we found an area that has potential.

So Saturday morning, at 0500, I loaded the dogs into the truck (I'd packed the rest of the gear the night before) and drove up to Steamboat Springs.  Made good time getting up there, and since he and his wife had driven up Friday, we met up and drove in.  A few miles up some old logging roads/National Forest roads, and we parked.  Humped over some hills, bushwhacked through some trees and such, found a few potential funnels that might offer a shot.  Saw a metric shit-ton of deer track, including scat, and what I believe was some older elk scat.

During it all, my dogs were with us, and they were absolute rock stars.  Always close, never making noise, nary a complaint about anything... I rather think they enjoyed it, truth be told.

We marked the spots we thought have promise, then came back down the hills, and drove into downtown Steamboat Springs proper for a bite to eat and a pint.  Topped off the tanks, and drove up to Rabbit Ears Pass, where we found a nice spot to camp, overlooking a vast meadow that had a pond in the middle of it.  Another potential elk hunting spot, my friend thought.  I'd be inclined to agree, but given the easy access, I suspect it'll be flooded with hunters during season.  For elk, if you want good chances at all, you need to put in the work, and driving up to a meadow so you can take a 75 yard shot from your campsite isn't what I'd consider "putting in the work".

At any rate, we set up our camp, had some dinner, and sat around the camp fire, enjoying the camaraderie that camping naturally affords.

By and by, sleeping at 10,000 feet ASL, away from the lights of the city, offers you views of the night sky that you wouldn't believe.  We saw the Milky Way stretch across the sky, and more stars than I've seen in some time.  It was truly beautiful.

Slept the sleep of the just, too... A few miles up and down those hills after an 0500 wake up really wore me out.  Even the dogs were exhausted.

Woke up on Sunday, made some breakfast, and explored a bit more, only this time by vehicle instead of on foot.  Eventually we headed towards Poudre Canyon, and stopped at Joe Wright reservoir.  The Arctic Graylings are running this time of year, so we pulled the fishing rods from the cars, walked a half mile in along a muddy, sloppy, overgrown path, and started casting for fish.

My buddy is an avid fisherman, and he gave me a spare fly rod, a few minutes of instruction on how to cast a fly rod -- hint: It is NOT as easy as they make it look! -- and we started fishing.  I managed to snag a little grayling on my third cast, which was remarkable considering that instead of the soft, floating presentation of the fly, my cast caused a rather impressive PLOP!, but catch the first fish I did.   Little fellow, so we put him back.  Buddy got a keeper a half hour later or so.

Fished for a few hours, and my focus was more on developing a smoother cast than catching fish, then decided to call it when the first rain drops fell.  Walked back out, rinsed off the dogs, loaded up, and drove back to Ft. Collins.  Unpacked the truck, took a shower, and went to my local brewery for a pint and a couple slices of food truck pizza.

Not a bad weekend at all.

July 19, 2017

Five to Seven DAYS?

The payments for the Tacoma started this past Saturday.  Being conscious of the need to pay on time, every month, I set up my account at my bank to automatically make the payment on the due date, via their on-line bill payment feature.

Saturday morning, I woke up and had a message from the bank: "We are experiencing technical difficulties and are currently unable to process automated payments.  We will update you when this is resolved" (or something like that... You get the idea.)

Not wanting my payment to be late, I logged into the website for the company that gave me the car loan, and manually made the payment.  I've got the cushion money in my account, I don't want to start off with a late payment, and whatever... Just pay the damn bill.

Sunday, my bank figures out the issue and resolves the technical glitch...

And promptly made the auto-payment transfer on Monday.

So now I've paid TWICE for the month of July.

I call my bank, they tell me they can't cancel the payment as it has "already left the system".

I call the auto-loan bank, they tell me that they can refund the second payment as soon as it posts to them.

So today I call auto-loan bank again, as the payment had posted.  In order to get the money refunded, I had to fax (seriously?  It's 2017, folks... Get off the analog fax line, please) a copy of my bank statement showing both payments (and a balance sufficient to cover both) to them, and then they'll process the refund request.

It's not that the money is that vital... I've already paid all the bills for the month, I've got plenty of food, and still have a decent balance in the checking account, plus my emergency stash of cash -- you do have a stash of emergency cash, don't you? -- in case something should come up.  Not having the refunded second payment isn't going to hurt me any.

At any rate, auto-loan bank will process the request, the payment will go out in the US Mail as a check, and should get to me within 5 to 7 business days...

*Blink*

You're telling me that you'll accept my electronic payment and deduct the money from my checking account in about 10 seconds when I pay online, but it takes 5 to 7 days, a paper check, and the US Mail for me to get the money back from you?

That's world class dumbassery right there.


July 17, 2017

Busy Weekend

My dog, Jake, despite being given chances to go potty around 2200 hrs just before bed, always wakes me up at 0530 to go potty.

Saturday was no exception.  But at least I got a nice view of the sunrise while he took care of his business...



Being fully awake, I turned to the coffee, made some breakfast, and got busy on a few chores.  Ran a couple loads through the washing machine so I'd have clean clothes for the next week, and took the empty cans and bottles and cardboard and such to the recycling.  Drove Tico the Taco through the car wash, as he was quite filthy from the trip to Omaha and all the bugs that the windshield encountered during that drive.

Then I went down to the Northern Colorado Airport, for there was a WWII airplane fly-in.  I walked among some of the airplanes that helped us win World War II, and just took it all in.


P-51 Mustang


Nose guns on a B-24J Liberator.


Crew names on the side of the B-24J, with Old Glory flying above.  No, OldNFO's name was not on the fuselage.

Yes, I looked.  :D



B-17.  


Nose gun on a B-17.


P-51 in flight, Rocky Mountains in the background.  

After wandering the event for a bit, I drove out to the Loveland Hooter's for a plate of wings and a beer and some, uh... "scenic views".

After that, I headed home, did my cooking for the week, loading up my plastic tupperware tub things with an assortment: Pasta and sauce, red beans and rice, chicken and rice casserole, etc.

Sunday, I woke up (guess what time?) and headed to the American Legion Post 15 in Loveland to take my Colorado CCW Class.  The instructor was pleasant enough, despite being just a bit inaccurate on a couple things (minor, not worth bothering to correct him), and I now have the form to complete, and then take it and my $152.50 (gag-spit... Love being required to pay money to exercise my rights) to the Larimer county Sheriff Office, then wait for them to process it.

By law, they must reply with either a permit or a denial with reasons why within 90 days.  Fortunately, our county's Sheriff is rather strongly pro-2A, so I suspect it'll be faster than that.

After I completed the class, I met up with a friend at the Tilted Kilt in Greeley for a bite, a couple beers, an extensive map and satellite picture review for elk hunting this fall, and more, uh, "scenic views"...

We'll both be hunting 2nd Rifle, because neither of us got selected in the draw, so that requires some more work... More scouting, more knocking on doors to get permission to cross private property, more time in the field, and so forth.  That's OK, though.  Just means the elk tenderloin will taste that much better.  We arrived at an agreement on how to divide the harvest, should we be fortunate enough to take an elk, agreed on a place to go scout this weekend, and then commenced to bitch and moan about politicians for a while.

Came home, took the dogs for a walk since Sunday was pleasant weather (not the mid-90s temps we've been having, but a lovely 83 or so), cooked dinner, and called it a night.

If anyone has recommendations or suggestions on elk hunting property in/around Steamboat Springs, I'd be indebted to you.

Have a good week.  Stay safe, do good things for others, and check-six.

July 13, 2017

Food With a Link

One of the things about living alone is that it can be a challenge to cook meals at home, and it's easy to just say "Screw it, I'm going out for dinner".

The problem with this is that dining out is expensive, compared to making your own meals, and that eats into the bank account balance quickly.  Consider the following: Go to a Mexican restaurant, get a entree, some chips and salsa, and perhaps a beer or margarita.  You can easily drop $15 on food, another $3-6 on the booze, and then another $ or $5 on tip... So you just spent about $25 for that meal.

That same $25 can get you a pack of tortillas, a jar of salsa, a couple chicken breasts, and a six pack of beer.  Make your enchiladas at home:

Season the chicken with taco seasoning (make your own, using this recipe) and bake at 350F for 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and shred the chicken.  While the chicken is in the oven, make a cup of rice.  Dump the rice, chicken, a few glops of salsa, and some cheese into a large bowl, mix well.

Put a decent sized dollop of the chicken/rice/salsa mix onto a tortilla, roll the tortilla to make the enchilada shape, and place in a 13x9 glass baking dish.  Repeat until you've used all of the mixture or all of the tortillas, whichever comes first.

Cover with a can of cream of chicken soup and some diced green chili peppers, sprinkle a light bit of cayenne pepper on top, and put into the 350 oven for another 20 minutes or so.  You'll end up with about 4 meals of 2 enchiladas each.

While browsing this morning, I stumbled across this link, which has more recipes for your enjoyment.  Try those next time you're considering going out for dinner, save yourself a few bucks.

(And don't get me wrong, I enjoy a meal out as much as anyone... I'm just trying to get the spending under control, and figured I'd share the wealth, so to speak.)

July 12, 2017

No, I Did Not

Over on Facebook, a friend posted this:

Sometimes, when people complain about the younger generation(s), they forget to take a moment to recall that THEY RAISED that generation.....


No, I didn't.  I didn't raise ANYONE.

So I get to bitch all I want, thank you very much.