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...


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


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.

July 10, 2017

Absence over the past few weeks

Apologies for the lack of content the past few days.

Last Monday, July 3, my mother called to inform me that her brother, my uncle, Phil passed away in his sleep.

Phil made 81 trips around the sun.  He was born during the Dust Bowl years in rural Nebraska, and would be one of 9 children.  Leaving formal school in the 9th grade, as was not uncommon back then, he worked his family's farm until he had saved enough to buy acreage of his own and start farming his own land.  He later went into long haul trucking when the farming economy crashed hard in the 1980s, and in the meantime raised 4 daughters.  His generosity, patriotism, and kindness were and still are unmatched.  If I lived such a life, I would be a fortunate man indeed.

Friday I drove to Omaha for the services.  The viewing was Friday evening, and several of my cousins (I have 30 first cousins) were there.  As Phil would have wanted us to do, we popped a couple beers in the parking lot before the formal service began.  After the viewing, a large group of us went to the hotel and sat in the lobby area, catching up, and playing cards (and drinking more beers, because that's what Phil would have wanted us to do as well).

Funeral was Saturday, and then it was off to my cousin Connie's house for food, telling of stories, some tears, some laughter, and -- quell surprise -- more beers. My cousin Terry and I stole away and ducked into Lazlo's Brewery for a beer.  They have pretty decent craft beer, and I can only handle so much Bud Light before I start twitching for a real beer.

Sunday morning I got up, checked out of the hotel, and pointed the Tacoma westward.  Nebraska is one long damn state east-to-west, and I had to cover 432 miles of it before I crossed into Wyoming, after which it was a short hop to Cheyenne, then a final 40 miles to home.  Got back to FoCo around 3pm.  Unpacked, picked up the dogs from the kennel, and called it a night soon thereafter.

Other than that, it's been pretty uneventful around here.  Temps have been pretty warm, and it's drier than a popcorn fart, so the fire risk is high.  I'm contemplating buying a kayak so I can head out on the lake in the afternoons/weekends.  I've got my Colorado CCW class coming up this Sunday, I'll be headed BACK to Omaha on the 28th for a family reunion that has been planned for a few months (I'm considering starting the drive on the 27th after work, maybe get 3 hours or so of driving done, and finding a place to camp), and other than this past weekend, everything has been status quo.

I'll try to get back to more regular content.

June 27, 2017

Requiescat In Pace

Yesterday, I received word that an associate of mine from back in Indiana had died.

Kyle wasn't exactly a friend in the truest sense of the word, but he was a former co-worker, and we were friendly enough... Talking about raising daughters, the challenges associated therein, and life in a small Midwest city.

He was diagnosed with cancer that progressed rapidly, and the cancer got into his bones.  Despite very aggressive treatment at Indiana University Health System hospitals and cancer centers, the disease progressed rapidly.

He leaves behind a wife and children, so if you're the praying type, maybe add them to your list when you're talking to your deity.

Requiescat in Pace, Kyle.  I'll see you when the time comes.

June 19, 2017

Adding Another Gat to the Arsenal

Got an email the other day advertising a Ruger 10/22 with synthetic stock for $169.

Add shipping, the FFL Transfer fee, and it comes in at just a whisker over $200... Too good of a deal to pass up -- Cabela's has them for $269 on their website -- so I snagged one.  

Should arrive today.  Figure I'll put an el-cheapo scope on the thing, go slay me some prairie dogs.  

And besides, you can never have too many decent quality .22LR rifles.  They're just so much fun to shoot it's not even fair.  

Also in gun news, my friend JayG from Marooned (when is he going to start blogging again?) is sending me a .45ACP conversion kit for my Sig P250.  That should arrive today as well.  Swap the slide, barrel, recoil spring, and mag, and now I go from shooting a pistol in .22LR to one shooting .45ACP, but with the same mechanics.  

This is something I've been wanting for a while.  I've got my G19, and it's fine and all, but I'd really like to get more practice in, and it's far easier on the wallet to run 500 rounds of 22 in a week than 500 rounds of 9mm.  

Now to get a membership at the local indoor range and make going down there after work a daily, or near daily, habit.  

June 14, 2017

Thought Provoking

Browsing a bit on the web today while waiting on a new server to update, I cam across an interesting article that gave me pause.

"Something’s wrong when the law-abiding are afraid of police" is an Op-Ed piece in the Miami Herald.

I'd encourage you to read the article.

A few things that I wanted to comment on...

Two weeks ago, a black woman driving alone in Princeton, Louisiana, was pulled over for no apparent reason. 
But she was not shot and killed. Or hauled from her car and body-slammed. Or even arrested for getting snippy. 
The officer explained that she was driving under the speed limit, something he said drivers do when they are tired or inebriated. He said he just wanted to make sure she was OK. 
“And as he said that,” said Ayanna Reid Cruver in a video posted to Facebook, “I just broke down crying,”

OK, first, I found it odd that the writer would use a story about a peaceful, proper encounter with law enforcement to start a tirade about bad cops.  I mean, this is exactly the sort of interactions with law enforcement that we should expect.  She had done nothing wrong, he had probable cause to make the traffic stop to check on her well-being, and that's the lead to a story about excessive police violence?

The officer, she said, begged her not to cry. He even gave her a hug. But Cruver was still so shaken she had to get off the freeway and pull over to compose herself. 
Her video has been viewed 3.3 million times.

I'll start by saying that there are legitimate concerns over the police and excessive use of force.  And I don't want to discount this woman's concerns.


She was so distraught that she had to pull over and compose herself, and one of the actions she took to soothe her fear was to videotape herself to post on social media?  That doesn't smell right to me.

Consider the three cases noted above. Levar Jones’ assailant pleaded guilty in March of last year, but has yet to be sentenced. A jury cleared the cop who broke Lateef Jones’ jaw. Tamir Rice’s killer was never even tried.

Wait... Levar Jones' assailant pleaded guily, and that's evidence of a lack of accountability?  The cop who broke Lateef Jones' jaw was charged with a crime and went through a trial.  That the jury found him not guilty has no bearing on the accountability issue... HE WAS TRIED FOR A CRIME!  How is that not being held accountable?  Sometimes a jury returns a "Not Guilty" verdict.  That's the court system for you.  The office in the Tamir Rice case was not charged, because the District Attorney determined there was insufficient evidence to prosecute.  Again, that's not inaccountability, that's the system doing what it does.  How is this the fault of the police department, that another government agency (the local DA office) decided to take no further action?

It strikes me that this author wants any cop who uses (rightly or wrongly) violence in an encounter to be put in prison, bypassing the courts, no trial, no appeal, just send 'em away.  That's no solution.  That leads to a worsening social structure -- cops would no longer use any means of force to stop criminals, for fear of going to prison.  "Oh, you're holding a knife to a child's throat?  Well, I'll ask you nicely to stop, and if you don't, I'll ask nicely a second time."

The damage of such failures is bigger than those three cases or the hundreds that preceded them. Where there is no accountability, there can be no trust. When law-abiding people have legitimate reason to fear even a traffic stop, the world becomes more dangerous, both for police and the communities they serve.

This is true.  The general public should NOT have to fear law enforcement for a routine traffic stop.  At the same time, law enforcement should not have to fear the public during a routine traffic stop, but we've seen multiple instances where cops have been shot for no other reason than they were doing their job.

When he was stopped last year for speeding, Tony Lee, a Washington-area preacher, was happily surprised to find the officer friendly and professional. Talking with a friend, Lee, who is black, called the encounter a “blessing.” The friend, a white police chief in another jurisdiction, was angry at that, reminding Lee that anyone who gets a ticket — even a deserved one — has a right to be upset. “But,” said the chief, “you’re just happy you’re [still] living. That’s not the way it should be.”

On that, I agree.  That's not the way it should be.

June 12, 2017

A Fine Weekend

One of the pleasant aspects of living here is that I'm not *IN* Denver, but also not far from it.

Which means that if a friend of mine from Nashville happens to be flying through Denver International Airport on Saturday, I can swing down there, meet up with her in the non-secure area, catch up over a beer and chat for an hour or so before she flies home.  I haven't seen LD in a few years, and it was really great to see her.

It also means that if another friend from Connecticut happens to be driving across country on vacation with his wife and 2 year old child, and happens to be coming across on I-70, I can swing down on Sunday afternoon, meet up with them at Station 26 Brewing Company for a pint, some food truck grub, and few hours of chat.

Getting to see one long time friend in a weekend is a blessing.  Getting to see TWO in the same weekend?  Well, that's just as good a weekend as a man could ever want.