Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Back From the Woods....Again

Just spent another two weeks in the woods. One week was spent training scouts in marksmanship skills at a camp and the other was spent with my son's scout troop at summer camp. I've decided to invest in some lighter and better components for my Hammock. I use it enough to justify the investment and it will help a bunch to keep my kit light.  I'm thinking a SilNylon rain cover, some Dyneema cordage and better fasteners for the hammock itself. Should drop 3 Lbs off my pack and save space too.

I've been away, but not so much that I haven't seen the news feeds from time to time! Very weird times we live in. In my opinion, it's the most divisive, dangerous period in my lifetime. The whole country feels it. My business is way down for this time of year. People aren't spending money on anything but maintenance and consumables. Back stock is way down. Companies I do biz with are normally stocked to the hilt with product this time of year, but they are all holding back as well. Most are not hiring new people or are not replacing the ones that quit/retire. Very ominous times indeed.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Project Glock 19 Ultracarry

I've been without a Glock 19 for several years. It just didn't fit any Niche for me. I'll either use the G26 for concealment or the full size 17 at the range doing drills. The 19/23 series really didn't appeal to me so I've sold all of them off over the years. I've decided to build a G19 for the Grey Man Cache. Glock recently made up some FDE units in different configurations with factory Ceracoat. I traded off the G29 to streamline the calibers a bit and scratch an itch I've been feeling. I've wanted to update that kit for a while now and recently had an opportunity to do so.

My plans for the unit are to get a factory minus connector, threaded Gemtech Barrel, suppressor height night sights and stuff the old Gemtech can of mine in the kit. I'm getting a new can so the old one can get put back for a rainy day in the Cache. The pistol has been high gripped as you can tell from the picture. My XXL meat hooks need some extra room on a 19, and it does the trick perfectly. I don't do extended junk on fighting pistols, so none of that nonsense. I'm going to try some different base plates, I've heard some good things about the Tango Down/Vtac base plates so I'm going to try them out with this gun and proliferate as their performance dictates.


Monday, June 8, 2015

Backpacking Trip with The Minions.

After much contemplation and planning, the boys (13&10) and myself decided to go on a 3 day backpacking excursion. A couple nights before we left, the youngest approached me and asked for it to be a 4 day trip, so I obliged at the consent of the spousal unit and the eldest manchild. The extra day had very few logistical changes due to just adding an extra day's rations. All else was the same.

A few years ago I planned a backpacking trip with the our Boy Scout troop. We decided that the same area would be a great place for us to explore, so that was set. Mt youngest asked to go to all kinds of unusual place to backpack, but driving to Alaska just wasn't in the cards. We reviewed Topo maps and hiker reviews of the area and decided an hour and a half drive to the site was going to be optimal for finding and setting up camp. The National Park we chose is situated directly adjacent to a fairly large reservoir, so I brought some fishing gear as well.

The plan was to follow the trails onto a peninsula in the lake and bushwhack our way 2.5 miles to the lake. The topo maps showed a very steep grade down to the lake so we were unsure of how to get right to the area we wanted to use. There were water sources in the area on the plateau of the peninsula,  so we had water no matter what. Once we came to the drop off, we could decide from there where to camp.

We started packing after watching the weather guessers forecast for the weekend. For lodging, the youngest and I chose Skeeter Beeter hammocks from Grand Trunk with a tarp for cover, with the eldest choosing to use my 3.5# backpacking tent. Both boys opted for summer weight sleeping bags. Youngest used a Suisse Gear 50 degree bag and the eldest a USGI jungle bag. I grabbed a fleece bag liner and decided against using a ground pad insulation layer. We all have Cocoon inflatable pillows. The eldest and I brought our lightweight backpacking camp stoves with backpacking Isobutane canisters and nesting LiTech Pot and pan. Everyone has a LiTech aluminum cup and a couple water bottles, one metal, one Nalgene. We each had water bladders as well. The eldest and I had 100oz Waterbeast bladders and the youngest a 50oz bladder. I carried a Katadyn Hiker Pro with hydrolink adapter for the bladders and the eldest carried a Sawyer Mini filter. The youngest carried water tabs in case of emergency.

I carried my Trusty Osprey Aether 70 pack (full review soon), my eldest the Osprey Kestral 48 and the youngest had the opportunity to use the Kelty Redwing 50 that my Grey man Cache is in because it's home getting updated. We packed 3 days undies and socks, a pair of shorts and shirt for in camp and a swimsuit for the lake. We all wore synthetic clothes for the hiking portion of the trip.Everyone carried their normal camping headlamp and backup pen light, a small first aid kit, mess kit, small hunk of Gorilla tape, paracord, toiletry bag, compass and map, water shoes, wet wipes and ziplock bags.

I carried my EDC knife, the HK epidemic made by Benchmade. as well as a local knife maker's option that hasn't been well tested yet. Both minions carried a folder as well. I decided to forego a long arm due to weight and pack size restraints. I did carry the LCP in my pocket and carried the Walther P22 with an AAC can in my pack for critter control should we get ourselves cornered by an errant skunk or cottonmouth. There are no significant threats from wildlife in my area besides pit vipers and a few large cats. My Car kit was in the 4wd mini SUV the wife drives, so we could fight our way home if needed.

Food was the major consideration due to a few seemingly simple issues. My youngest son likes a girl, and she is a vegetarian. She has recently convinced him that he should be too. Ugh. So he wants to no longer eat red meat. Pescatarian to be exact. He eats fish like a maniac, but hasn't ever been a big meat eater. I was thankful that I had one 2010 case of MRE's left. It's the last of the 2010's on hand so I broke it open and doled out the vegetarian meals to the youngest and gave the eldest dibs on the rest. To fill in, I bought some Idahoan Loaded Mashed Potato dried packets. They use Textured Vegetable Product as bacon so little man was ok with it. I also bought some canned tuna salad snack packs for protein. The eldest planned the breakfasts, and Pop Tarts were on the menu. They are heavy, but it's easy and they will eat them. Amazingly enough, Pop Tarts roasted over an open fire are even better than in a toaster. We planned for 3 dinners, 4 lunches and 3 breakfasts. I chose only 1 MRE and decided that my favorite mountain house meal, Noodles and Chicken, would be my staple for the trip. For lunches we planned trail mix, fruit mix and power bars. In preparation for the trip, we stripped out our MRE's to only what they wanted. The drink packets were the most coveted item. Boys loved them.

For rain gear, the boys used Ponchos while I brought along my 5.11 rain jacket and Tru Spec wide brim rain hat. My regular Oakley glasses and Gemtech hat are standard equipment. Some of the sundries I carry in the woods to supplement the boys was a soft splint and wrap, Motrin, extra batteries, a pan to cook fish in, some oil and fish fry breading.

All wet, my pack was 50 pounds. The boys were 33 for the youngest and 37 for the oldest. I knew it was way heavier than I like, but with the boys being with me, some extra food and medical kit was a no brainer. 200oz of water didn't help.

The day before we left, we hiked about a half mile with full water in our packs to learn the heft and distribution. Upon reentering the house, the boys were pulling extraneous gear out of their packs quickly. In the morning we had a trip briefing, agreed that no fighting was required and that if they didn't behave they would be even more tired after doing pushups with a pack on. I briefed them on the plan to Pack in 3.5 miles in extremely rugged conditions with regular elevation changes from 500ft of elevation to 800ft in less than a mile. Bushwacking in the back country required even more care due to the wildlife concerns and trip/fall hazards. We reviewed our meal planning and water requirements as well as safety gear use. Whistles and lights on your person at all times, no wandering alone. Leave No Trace rules were reviewed and we put our packs in the wife's SUV for the trip.

At noon we pulled pitch and headed south. We grabbed a not so healthy lunch to ensure energy levels 1would stay up and arrived at the site at around 3pm.We unloaded our gear and made our way onto the fire road that would carry us 2 miles into the back country where we would blaze a trail or find a game trail that would suffice. I pushed the boys hard for the first day. I wanted them to sleep at night so I made sure they only made 2 rest breaks on the way to the back country. I stood by while they rested, but didn't take off my pack or sit down. Lead by example, if it were. We hiked the 2 miles back to the wooded cemetery where the fire road ends and dropped our packs to explore the area and the pre civil war cemetery. I found a couple trail leads and checked the direction of travel.

We grabbed our packs and headed off on a game trail. The boys were excited to be off the main trail and wanted to lead, which changed quickly when they realized the spider webs are a concern when leading. Dear old Dad took over and lead us back to an old deserted fire trail that hadn't been maintained in years. Many felled trees and sink holes covered the trail. It led us about 3/4 of a mile further into the back country. The trail ended at a clearing of sorts where the trees, mainly elm, had no undergrowth besides some scrub and thorns. We consulted the map and headed into the scrub looking for a game trail along a ridge. We found one and almost immediately my eldest manchild hit the dirt like a ton of bricks. He had tripped on a log. He brushed himself off and we started back into the woods. About a 1/4 mile later he noticed that he had lost his glasses when he took them off due to fogging. It had been drizzling all day and he had issues seeing. I was able to backtrack to the spot of his graceful dismount and he found them. Back on track.

We followed the trail another couple miles to a beautiful plateau area of almost no undergrowth. There was some grass, but no bushes or thorns for about a hundred yards in each direction. We explored it while checking the map and found a really nice camp site that hadn't been occupied in a long time. The boys chose to stay there and scout the trail to the lake that evening. We set up camp under threat of rain.


We scouted some trails down to the water and the boys chose one in particular that I told them wasn't viable, but they decided it was the one they wanted to try. The Pink sites are regular boat camping sites, the red is where we found the unmarked camp site. The blue trail is 400 vertical feet worth of 45 degree plus climbing in leaves and scrub. We found the lake to be inaccessible due to brush. The edge of the lake is covered in thick brush where we were. We headed out in the morning of the second day, and it was about noon by the time we returned from our little trek. We decided to stay another night in the same camp and explored all around. We found the local wildlife pond and refilled our water bottles. It seems that my water filter was at it's end of life and decided to die. Luckily we had 3x redundancy in that regard. We spent the rest of the day tracking wildlife, exploring thickets and game trails and learning the lay of the land for further trips on another day. We built a nice fire and had our meals heated on rocks near the fire. The boys had a great time and the weather was drier, yet a bit cooler than was forecast. That evening after dinner, I had the urge to use a cathole only to find that the carbon Fiskers lightweight trowel we use was missing. #2 owned up to forgetting it near the bottom of the ravine from earlier in the day. He and I set off to recover the lost trowel. It was right at the edge of the second slope, right at the drop off to the last sheer area. We only had to climb the 250 feet down and back to recover the precious poop trowel.



The forecast called for 79 degree days and 65 degree nights and we packed accordingly, but like many things, it ended up changing after we had planned. That night it got down to 53 degrees. I ended up sleeping in my rain gear since I was the one with the least effective sleep system. I still stayed cool and woke up shivering several times that night. The wind had picked up and exacerbated the issue.

First thing we did day three was to light a fire and heat up some water for drinks. Once warmed, we milled around camp for a couple hours cleaning up and doing some wood stacking for the next time. We struck camp and headed back into the regular area of the park. I tried to teach the eldest about leading and choosing a good path in the brush, but he was having issues keeping his direction constant. Once back on the path, the boys lead and pretty much left me for a while. I'd catch up with them on inclines and in rough terrain, but they did a great job spotting some deer and other wildlife. We came to the first intersection to find a huge mess of beer cans and trash. It seems the locals had a little party. 2 guys and a gal. One trekked 1.5 miles back to the trail in cowboy boots, one in Vans and the gal had hikers. They left a trail of beer cans and cooler tire marks that made my blood boil.

Manchild 1 decided he wanted to play Diva and wanted to go home. #2 was having non of it and we decided to go back down to the low country and camp near the stream for water. I pulled out an Anti Diva pack- Hersheys dark chocolate- and changed his mind once his blood sugar was back up. We set up camp in the rain and foraged for dry wood. This area is camped regularly so wood was at least 50 yards away when you went looking. The boys gathered a few dozen Geodes in the stream and chased salamanders. #2 found a couple caverns in the rocks and went nearly vertical up the hills to check them out. We found enough to get a fire going and #2 was already sacked out as soon as he was fed and his hammock was set up. I stayed up til 11pm to stay warm at the fire on a cold, rainy 55 degree night in the woods. Some English Breakfast Tea kept me comfortable. That night I slept on my raincoat instead of in it. Much more effective to keep the chill off.

The next morning we struck camp and climbed out of the ravine on the switchbacks. We smelled to high heaven, for sure, but we had a great time.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Back to the living

Hey all, been kinda quiet lately, but I needed to heal up a bit from a lengthy battle with a viral bronchitis bug that had me down for about a month. It was a nasty one for sure. I'm all better now and will be back to posting some of my newest adventures. Between teaching firearms courses and a few other ventures, my time has been fairly spoken for. That all changes this week now that I'm back from an extended backpacking trip with my sons. I will do my best to get some fresh content out in the next couple days for your pleasure. What to look forward to?

Recent backpacking trip

Grey man Cache updates and pics

Planned gun training

Fiscal development plan

Anonymous computing


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Been a Rough Week Already.

So it seems that my vehicle has decided to go Galt as well. Last fall I replaced the head gaskets for the second time due to a malfunctioning fan clutch, then replaced the front end and front u joints. About 10g's in repairs in a few months. Not to be outdone, the old gal decided to allow her starter to puke out on me. Unfortunately I was 100 miles from home at a scout camping trip when it happened.

Several hundred bucks later, I'll be back on the road and running, but I'm losing my faith in the old gal.

Our schedule is just stupid right now. Between my wife working from 2-3am until 3pm, then handling homework and sometimes dinner, she's not in good mental shape to deal with a teen and tween boys that love to fight. Add in my irregular training schedules, service calls, weekend scouting and teaching schedule, it's pretty much a free for all around here.

None of our gardening has been completed. At this point we are going to have to go with seedlings and such to populate our garden plot. Not how I like to do it, but necessary at the moment.

I'm so far behind on reloading, I have to sit at the dillons for a few hours before I can hit the range. I still have factor ammo put back, but for range fodder, I generally use my reloads. I acquired a dillon primer tube filler, so that will be a time saver once I get it set up and running. Need to make full size human targets for the weekend and kick out about 1200 rounds of 5.56 and 400 rounds of 9mm. Might even run some 45acp if I get froggy.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Back From the Land of Banjo's and Squalor

The NRA convention was about half the size of last year's event, but even so, I was able to talk to some really cool people. The designer at LWRCI helped me iron out some issues on my rifle and the guys at LeHigh defense dropped some knowledge about their new bullets and the upcoming arrivals.

It was a good time all around. I was present for 2 great seminars on Saturday. One was about Sniping in WW1 with John Plaster of "Ultimate Sniper" fame. The second was Kyle Lamb of Vtac and his Mindset Seminar. I'm going to talk to the lead guy and see if we can incorporate a few items from it into our mindset class. The highlight of my day was chatting with IV8888 about the Barrett M107 I'm lusting after. He's a really cool guy. I'd go blow stuff up with him any time.

The show was a bit tawdry with all the models and the bare flesh. I realize it's a huge sausage fest, but to cheapen it with meth'd out models and oddly cast equipment hookers was offensive. The gals knew little to nothing about the product, and they would scoff when you didn't fawn over them. I was looking for porn of a firearm variety, not the more seedy style. 

I spent a full afternoon talking with some very interesting people within the fringe media about the new M855/NFA DD/Sporting purposes agreement that's been blown up with it's seeing the light of day. We spent a good 4 hours considering implications and current cases that could gut the ATF very soon. We also spent a time talking about logistics and militia concerns with regard to infiltration by agent provocateurs. One gent discussed openly about one of his best friends getting in trouble and being owned by the feds to the point that he no longer had contact with him and the friend is now supporting extremist agents of the militia fringe.

It makes me wonder how many times the Feds have taken an interest in an old useless guy like me. I have contacts in that world, but I'm not privy to any information that would be considered valuable by anyone. I'm sure if my life or freedom was suddenly called into question, I'd rethink my associations in order to walk among the rest of society.

Lastly, I'd like to talk about the city of Nashville. The downtown area is pretty nice, but difficult to navigate due to terrain. Once you leave downtown, the outlying area is full of squalor. My hotel was near Brick Church Pike, and I had to drive around a while to find decent food in the area. A biker gang had a road closed and was parking bikes in the street. Not many police in those areas as well, but you didn't have to look hard to find a closed business or boarded up housing. I was a little shocked at how dilapidated the surrounding area is. The women out there were VERY friendly, and I will say that they honked and shouted at me more than a few times. 

Next Year it's in Louisville, and I'm hoping to make it for a larger show.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

NRA Convention in Nashville, Tennessee this weekend.

I'm not the biggest fan of the NRA, but I've decided that change must come from within in that organization. I've become a member with voting rights and have cast my ballot for more hard line candidates. I've also decided to go to the convention this weekend to check out all the new cool stuff they have to show off. I'd like to get some Sellebrity pics as well. Yes, I spelled that correctly.

Have fun if you plan to head out.