Thursday, October 29, 2009

Of Raptors

The family BR spent late September/early October at the Central Washington Fair in Yakima, for the express purpose of letting the Ladies BR show their ponies. I snapped over 700 photos while we were there, and have been meaning to blog about the experience, but, well, I've been a bit delinquent in that endeavor. So I will strive to make amends, although the posts will appear in no particular order other than that which strikes me.

I have a general disdain for birds, viewing them, for the most part, as winged rodents. Not so the members of the raptor family. Eagles, Hawks, and Owls. I find them all very majestic animals, and will stop what I am doing to watch them in flight.

The fine folks at the Sardis Raptor Center were at the fair. They work to rehabilitate injured members of the raptor family. Human contact with the animals is kept to a minimum, and most are returned to the wild. However, due to nature of their injuries, some of these birds are unable to be released. These birds are used in their educational program.

I believe this is a Red Tailed Hawk:

Barred Owl:

Golden Eagle:

4 year old Bald Eagle:

12 year old Bald Eagle. If you look closely you can see that he is missing his left eye.

The folks at Sardis are all volunteers, and their operating capital entirely from grants and donations. I hold people who volunteer their time for animals in great esteem.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

An Airmen Returns Home

Thanks to the efforts of the folks at BentProp, and the work of JPAC, a hero has returned home.

Rest easy, my friend.

Monday, October 26, 2009

We Keep Getting Dumber

It seems these days that the more high tech something is, the dumber it makes us. To wit:

Yuppie 911

It seems that wannabe Lewis and Clark's, whose previous outdoor experience is limited to walking the dog at the city park, are now setting out in their birkenstocks with a sack lunch, their blankie, and a personal locater beacon. Thus emboldened, our intrepid adventurers boldly go where no man has gone before. The reason being that the men who went before knew better than to attempt such folly. But, have no fear, once they find their sorry asses in a pickle, they need simply push the panic button. This done, they can sit back, munch their tofu sandwich and sip a snapple, secure in the knowledge that the designated rescue agency is thundering to the rescue, placing their own selves at risk, to save the stupid.

Not so very long ago, when folks found themselves in such a predicament, they were faced with two choices. Either use their gray matter and work through the problem, or die. I suspect that most. although not all, adventurers made it a point to be prepared. Now any old soft body can go traipsing through the woods, secure in the knowledge that someone will save them when they get a blister on their big toe.

Now, I will readily admit that I have a handheld GPS. I keep it in my saddlebag or backpack. I mark the trailhead before setting out. Then I turn it off, and stow it away. My navigation tools consist of a map, and a Mark I, Mod 0 compass. I have used the GPS on the trail once. Our whereabouts suspect, I used it to mark our Latitude and Longitude. However, had I not possessed map reading skills, this information wouldn't have been worth squat.

My treks are planned out. Supplies are checked and double checked. I always have water, a survival kit, and first aid kit. If a trail looks questionable, I study the terrain, compare it to the contour lines on the map, and am never too proud to say "I don't think so." A healthy fear of heights probably goes a long way toward preventing me from endangering my skin, also. On one trip, we rode in out of the wilderness a day earlier than planned due the fact that thunderstorms were rolling in. Discretion, and all that. Maybe I'm old school, since I believe in preparation, and knowing ones own limits.

I firmly believe that these gadgets, whilst designed with good intentions, are directly contributing to dilution of the gene pool. Along with the thousands of OSHA regulations in place, they keep those of limited common sense from perishing in the wilderness, or dying in an industrial accident, as they would have earlier in the last century. As a result, people not smart enough survive when left to their own devices, are now kept alive by regulations and gadgets, which permits them enough time on the planet to breed. This is usually done with someone possessing of an equally low IQ, thus creating the next generation of people who require that others take care of them.

It is to weep.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Deer Must Be on Vacation

Perhaps in the Bahamas. Or Hawaii. Or just about anywhere other than Western Washington. Nary a deer was to be seen by our party this weekend, or by any of the others that we saw and spoke to along the way. Mother nature is working against us. For the most part, weekend weather was cool and dry, which leads deer to eat at night, and bed down during the day. Good for them, bad for us.

But, a bad day hunting is not a bad day at all. I simply enjoy the opportunity to get out of the house, and commune with nature in places that most people will never see. And I did shoot a few good pictures.

The last is of Unicorn Peak in the Tatoosh Range. Believe it or not, we were getting snowed on when I snapped the photo.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"I'm Alive"

Once upon a time, in my younger days, forty seemed ancient to me. Now that I'm 43, with 44 looming on the horizon, I've discovered that in fact, I'm younger in my forties than I was in my twenties.

And I've found a video that describes this condition to a tee:

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sundays are for Auto Repair

At least this Sunday was. Like Andy, I had some fixin' to do. A horrible, metal on metal sound was coming from the left front of The Beast. My earlier suspicion of a warped brake rotor was incorrect, which led me to believe that the problem lay either in the hub or the cv axle. Sigh...

The first challenge is getting the offending wheel off the ground. A six inch lift and 35 inch tires tend to complicate jacking the vehicle up and setting it on a jackstand.

But it can be done, and soon the tire was on the ground, revealing the shiny new brakes I installed last weekend. Rust sure does set in fast in these parts.

Enter complication number one. Just about every fastener on this truck is metric, and the spindle nut (center of the picture below) is extra large. Despite having a tool set which is the envy of all my friends (courtesy of my Dad, the retired diesel mechanic), it's a bit light in the large size metric department. Thus it was off to the parts store to purchase a 35mm socket.

With that dilemma solved, the spindle nut was removed, followed by the the caliper, caliper anchor, and rotor, revealing the hub.

The cause of the problem quickly revealed itself. There was a great deal of play in the hub. The photo below reveals a bearing race sticking out where it shouldn't be.

While this was the more expensive of the two possible problems, it was the one that is considerably easier to fix, by about 4 or 5 hours. Money well spent. After another trip to the parts store, I was ready to put the whole shooting match back together.

Out with the old, and in with the new.

I'm pleased to report that the grinding metal sound is no longer present, and The Beast has once again been restored to her former glory.

On a side note, one socket and one universal joint were broken in the process of these repairs. Thank goodness for lifetime tool replacement.

It Would Appear That The Cat Is A 2nd Amendment Supporter

I snapped this photo yesterday evening, after laying my rifle out to dry off:

Opening Day

Yesterday's hunt was rather fruitless, at least from the standpoint of harvesting a deer. Or even seeing one, for that matter. For starters, we're hunting the rather elusive Blacktail Deer. And it was just too warm and wet. When the temperatures are high they feed at night, and sleep during the day. And when mother nature provides a frog strangling rain like she did yesterday afternoon, they tend to hunker down for cover.

The shortage of deer does not cause the hunt to end in disappointment. For me, hunting in more about the opportunity to be out of the house, in some far off stretch of land that few people will ever see. Even when I take pictures, they never reflect the same grand views that my eyes take in. The season isn't over yet, so pray for cold weather with rainy nights, for to flush out the prey.

We did spot this bull elk on the drive home:

I apologize for the poor quality of the photos, but the old Nikon Coolpix was at the limit of its range. The question has arisen, why didn't we shoot him? 1) It's not elk season, therefore doing so would be poaching, and activity I will not engage in. 2) As can be seen by the structure in the background, this young fella is standing in someone's yard. Undoubtedly, the homeowners would not take to kindly to gunfire in the yard.

I'm certain that come elk season, this bull will be nowhere to be seen, having found a safe place to weather the storm.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated...

...much to the chagrin of some, I'm certain. It seems that I've been busier than a one legged man in an ass kicking contest, so blogging has been non-existent. Iam full of blog fodder (among other things), with plenty of tales and pictures of the Central Washington Fair and associated horse show. However, tomorrow is opening day of deer season in these parts, so I'll be taking my rifle out for a walk. I'll get to blogging come Sunday.

Until then, I leave you with this video, which confirms my belated switch to Ford (not to mention the fact that they didn't take any of my tax dollars):