Saturday, December 24, 2011
Our tears are sorrowful as we mark our temporary parting
The sprinkles from heaven are joyful as they welcome Clare into the fold
A reunion with those who have gone before her
Clare F. Harold 1932 - 2011
I Love you Mommy
Saturday, December 17, 2011
We thought she was on the mend, but everything turned for the worse and her heart wasn't strong enough to handle it.
Dad and Cath were able to be there when she was ready to go, but it wasn't easy for anyone.
She is feeling no pain now and is in a better place.
I love you mom. Miss you forever.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Imitation can lead to originality. Do short exercises imitating different styles. Try on a dozen voices until you find one that fits. Ape the sure hand of a master. But remember this: write from your own experience. Your experience is unique. As John Braine, author of Room at the Top, wrote, “If you’re to be heard out of all those thousands of voices, if your name is going to mean something out of all those thousands of names, it will only be because you’ve presented your own experience truthfully.”
I'm probably not going to be posting each day for a while. I've got my start and I continue to plug away at it. When a Day suggests something that connects to me, I will post it. For now, I will slowly make my way through the plot, the characters and writing a few chapters.
I am using my experience in this project. I have been obsessed with the AT lately and this book will take place on a good deal of that trail. I also want to throw in some things on self-reliant bushcraft and survival techniques which I have been studying and practicing for a while now.
Although there are no rules about story ideas, I would offer you one caution: think small. One of the worst mistakes most beginning novelists make is thinking big, trying to come up with an end-of-the-world story, in the belief that big is better. That’s not true. Keep your story idea small and focused.
Look into your creative soul and search for a little story but one that has real meaning to you. We are all part of the human family. If you create a story that has deep meaning to you, chances are it will have deep meaning for the rest of us.
Well, my story is an end-of-the-world story, but it doesn't encompass a huge amount of the world. It is basically a get back home story with a good deal of anxiety and suspense. I hope to keep the cast of characters small and concentrate on these small groups of people and the struggles they face to get to their goal.
Monday, December 12, 2011
Analyze and learn. Take your favorite novel of the type that you want to write and read it again, as if it were a how-to manual for becoming a millionaire. Then read it again, breaking the book down into sections. Outline the action on large sheets of paper that you pin to your office wall.
Well, this is impossible to do in one day, but I am constantly reading and I usually have several books going at once. Right now I am reading three books on my Kindle (iPod Touch) and two other regular books on my bedside table. Some I read more than others, but I try to switch between each for a chapter or two. I now read with a writer's eye of plot, theme, structure and all that. I may get to outlining other books at some time, but for right now, I am concentrating on all the organization that goes with writing my novel.
There are lots of things to keep track of. After developing your plot, you have to work on fleshing out your characters and creating scenes and lots of other things. The obsessive planner in me is enjoying this part. It truly is a marathon and I am not in any hurry to finish. I am keeping an easy pace.
Sunday, December 11, 2011
And that is my plan. I hope to draw the reader in as my Protag struggles to get back home after a great disaster, encountering more hardship and disaster along the way. What he finds when he finally gets home will be climatic and troubling and I hope enjoyable to read.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
I like post-apocalyptic type novels where the Protag is struggling to not only survive, but accomplish some great task. I also have a current obsession with the Appalachian Trail and the people who spend lots of time hiking it. I'm in the military and have been for almost three decades.
My plan is to incorporate all this into my writing along with anything I can pull from my imagination.
Friday, December 9, 2011
I created a one sentence idea that was very simple, then expanded that into a paragraph as you can see on my 12/7/2011 entry. Since then I have been doing a little writing each day. Yesterday I finished my first draft of Chapter 1. I know it needs a lot of work, but I am writing and that is the idea. I will continue to bang out at the minimum amount that I stated in yesterday's entry and I am still having fun.
Day 3, check.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Carve out specific time to write. This is important because over the course of writing a novel, you’ll get discouraged, bored, angry, or otherwise fed up, and when you start feeling that way, you’ll need clearly defined patterns to keep yourself working.
Ok, I'm going to start out small here, because I'm not sure what I can do. I will adjust as needed and hopefully really get into the swing of things.
1.5 hours during the week (maybe in three 1/2 hours sessions) and 2 hours during the weekend.
That looks like an easy start. I always like small easy goals when I start something new. :)
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Today I did a quick google search on "how to write a novel" and found quite a few websites that give what appears to be decent advice on how to go about it. All the way to publication if that is what you want and I'm not sure that is what I want yet, but I really want to see if I can do it.
The first site I read talked about a snowflake method of creating a novel. It gives you little steps to start out with and slowly build all these things into a novel. It seemed like it made sense, so I tried my hand at a little plot development. It directs you to write a one sentence statement on your story. I came up with this:
A military man struggles to find his family in a post-apocalyptic world.
And that is where I will start. From there you expand on that one sentence into a paragraph, create and develop some characters and scenes and start expanding on all of it until you have something of substance.
After writing that first sentence I expanded it to this: (I'm leaving the ending off to create suspense)
Sergeant First Class John Kindel has been in the Army for 17 years. During one of his many training evolutions, some very bad things happen. The war that brought on this new world only lasted four days, but it really did the job. John is now separated from his family; his wife Lori, son Shane and daughter Britney by a landscape that looks like hell on earth. He decides to forsake his duties and get back home, where he hopes to find his family still alive and waiting for him. As he makes his away over the 1000 miles he needs to travel to get home, John encounters many challenges along the way. Some are easy to overcome and others threaten to take his life. John finally gets back home and finds...
And that is basically where I am at now. I'm excited, but a little scared. Can I do this? Probably not, but I will at least answer the question and that will still get it checked off my bucket list.
Another site I came across in my search was How to Write a Novel in 100 Days or Less
I will try to go to it each day and see what it has to say. I don't plan on doing this in 100 days, but who knows what will happen. Jump on and enjoy the ride.
On this your first day of writing your novel, make a promise to yourself that you are going to do it. This is critical. Without that commitment, you may as well save your pencils and paper. It isn’t going to happen. Remember, write as often as you can. That’s what writers do — they write.
Ok, check off day 1. Promise and Commitment made...
Thursday, November 17, 2011
The weather is right to again make my little fires in Shramm's woods. During our walks, Ginger and I linger at the camp site for a while while I pitter around with the shelter and make a fire. The red grass in the field is just about ready to be the perfect tinder. If I don't use that, I use my home made inferno pads.
The kids have been in the woods again. Riding their quad or "grooming" the trails for their bikes. Kids can be so distructive some times even as they are creating things. I haven't seen any freshly cut live trees lately, but they still like to dig deep holes to gather their dirt to make a ramp or two. Their latest project was to build a ramp over a large dead tree that fell across the trail during a late summer storm. That one is ok, but there was still a hole. I have started throwing logs and sticks into it to fill it up some.
Saturday I head to PA to help out with my Mom and Dad. She is still not right. Currently in a nursing home to rehab from her surgery, but I think those places just kill people. We need to bring her home...
Sunday, October 30, 2011
With a little searching and some easy work, I have created my own for continued use. 100 cotton pads cost around $2.60 or so, four bars of paraffin wax cost about $3.00; eight ounces of petroleum jelly and some tins to cook it all in cost a dollar each, so that is less than $8 spent.
I had already made some a while back with just PJ and they work well. Just as good as a cotton ball slathered in PJ, but I wanted to try something that is a little less messy, but still works well.
I melted all the PJ and one bar of the Paraffin wax in two of the tins and dipped the pad in the PJ first, let that dry and then in the wax to make it less gooey and still fire worthy. I was able make 45 tinder pads with what I had melted. That is quite a cost savings from the Mini-Inferno.
I had a little wax left and made a few with just the wax to compare the two. I took one of each out back and made a nice fire with some damp wood with ease. I didn't time the burn length, I just wanted to see if each was easy to light with ferro rod and if it would make a decent sustainable fire. Both performed well.
If I want to buy tins, the are about 50 cents a piece. I thank Roger for thinking this up, but I will be using my own version from now on, unless I want to periodically buy some to provide some support for his products.
Let's go make a fire...
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Last year, I traveled to Ohio and participated in a four day basic survival course and had a great time learning how to make primitive fire and shelters and a few other things. This year, my obsession has shifted to the Appalachian Trail and I went on a one week solo backpacking trip along the AT, just to see what it was like.
I am really enjoying these excursions. I learn a lot about myself and have had some profound experiences.
Now, I think my bride doesn't completely understand my little quirky trips, but she has supported my desire to do them and I am very thankful for that. For our whole relationship, which has spanned almost three decades, we have done a lot of things together. These solo trips appear a bit selfish and I'm sure they are, but the desire that drives me to them is overwhelming I appreciate the indulgence she has granted me to pursue them.
I have plans for more excursions and I'm hoping my bride will be joining me on them. She has expressed the desire to come along, but her sense of motherly duty takes precedence for now, even though I'm sure my babies are fully capable of caring for themselves.
This year, on the day after turning 49, I loaded up my van with a fully loaded backpack and drove to Harpers Ferry, WV. From there I hiked 93 miles north into Pennsylvania. Sleeping on a hammock, in hostels and shelters and I had a very good time. It was hard, but satisfying. I wanted to get the feel of what it like to be a long distance hiker. These seven days of hiking were the most I have ever done at one time. I carried everything I needed on my back. Slept in the woods, sometimes completely alone and met some interesting people.
My obsession with the AT continues. I am completely enthralled with the trail and the people who take a big chunk of their lives and hit the trail to see what they can do with it. It is crazy I think, but for now, it is my obsession.
I got a good feel of what it would be like to hike each day from sun up to sun down and how hard something like that is. But at the same time, I know the satisfaction of doing a big mile day and getting to a shelter where other hikers show up and you meet new people and hear new stories. It is something I feel very strongly that I may want to try before my bucket is kicked.
I kept a journal of my trip on Trail Journals.com and you can read my entries here. I wrote it about a week after returning home using my notes and memories after processing the whole experience in my mind for a while. Even that short of a trip had a strong effect on me.
I traveled the trail as Jefe. I plan on seeing more of the AT and all its challenges and glory.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
I'm in the woods, I'm on the trail
Tryin to make big miles, but keeping it real
So leave a note, write on my wall
I'll be back soon, before you can feel the cold of fall
My obsession is calling, has become a part of what's me
I'm on the trail
I'm in the woods
I'm hiking the AT
My pack will weigh in around 30 lbs. It feels pretty good on my back and hips and I think I will be able to tote it as many miles as I need each day.
My foot continues to hurt, but stretching and exercises along with vitamin I should keep me going.
At the very least, I want to make it to Pine Grove Furnace Park and the AT Museum. If all goes well I will make it to Boiling Springs and then back to Micheaux to stay in a Hostel and get my shuttle back to my car.
I am phyched and ready to finish up this last day of work...
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Since my last entry, I have done three more training hikes. Two with full pack and another just to put some miles in and take Ginger on a long walk.
After Hurricane Irene arrived, the parks were supposedly a mess, but I needed to get back out there to see how my foot could handle multiple days of hiking.
I headed to Patapsco and hiked down from the park and ride, circled around a bit, avoiding the dead falls, got caught by the rangers, who just shooed me away and headed back to the van. It was probably just a 3 miler or so, but a good hike.
The next Saturday, September 3rd, I was itching to see if I could do some big miles. I was up at 0500 and headed to The AT near Fredrick, MD. I parked at the trail head and hit the trail at 0700. I took numerous side trails, to check out various shelters, camps and a Hostel I hope to stay at and did an out and back. My calculations were I did 18.5 miles in 9 Hrs 55 minutes. There were some breaks in there that slow the overall pace down, but I was satisfied with the progress. My foot hurt throughout, but I found out that a little rest and stretching helped a lot during the hike. It was Labor Day weekend, so I saw quite a few weekenders and had some nice chats with some of them.
This Friday, September 9th, Ginger and I headed to Patapsco to do another 5 miler. I didn't bring my full pack, but just wanted to get some more miles in. Ginger got to chase a few deer and the rain held off until we were doing our last half mile. I was soaked throughout from sweat anyway, but it was a good hike.
So this week I head to San Diego for work and I already have a hike scoped out if I get the time and then one more week in the office before I hit the AT for a Section Hike. I am ready to see what it is like.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
The day was beautiful, with temps in the 80s and the humidity was a little high. We parked on Landing Rd as we usually do and started a large loop that would take us through some level forest, down some elevation along a stream, along a ridge, then back up and along some fields to complete the loop and head back to the trailhead.
The pack felt pretty good and I really enjoyed the hike. I was soaking wet when we finished and even though I had drank 32oz of water during the hike, I weighed about 5lbs lighter than I did in the morning.
The only concern I have is my heel. I guess I have some Plantar Fasciitis in my left foot and the pain was there pretty much the whole time and I'm limping around a bit now.
We covered about 6.7 miles according to the map and did the whole thing in 3 hours and 24 minutes. We rested three times where I took off the pack. The rests were nice, but they were mainly for Ginger, who gets pretty hot and still needs to lose a few pounds. She would just lay down in any creek she came upon and lap at the water a bit. When we were almost done, we stopped at a fairly large creek and she laid down in the water for a while until she felt good.
It was a good hike and I need to see what I can do tomorrow. Vitamin I will most likely be on the menu. We are lucky we did the hike today as they are closing all the State Parks around here due to Hurricane Irene.
One more month and I will be on the AT for 9 days or so.
The next morning my foot was pretty sore early, but when I actually got up, it wasn't so bad.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Thursday, June 30, 2011
After months of anticipation and planning, Tuesday, June 28th finally arrived and it was time for us to head up to PA and into the woods to do an overnight backpack trip. As I checked the weather each day for about a week before the trip, it looked like we may have some rain and thunder storms to contend with, but as I did my final check, early in the morning, it looked like the storms were moving through now and would be gone before we got there.
We were all packed up and ready to go before 0800 and we actually hit the road at 0755. We hit some rain on the way up around Westminster and the GPS mislead us into the most back roads possible after Gettysburg which Ginger's stomach didn't like, but we pulled into the AT Parking lot at 1025 or so and crossed the road and entered the AT at 1037. We were on our way.
The hikers were myself, Lisa, Shauni, Alex, Brandi and Ginger. We played with trail names as we headed down the trail towards our lunch stop at the Birch Run Shelter. While we were in the parking lot, a thru hiker by the name of 4 Beards came by. He was moving fast, but stopped to chat for a bit. He was headed for the half way mark of his long hike and a 1/2 gallon of ice cream was waiting for him at Pine Grove Furnace as a challenge to all thru hikers.
After a pleasant walk mostly down hill, we arrived at the shelter and had lunch around a large fire ring. There were two hikers up in the shelter and we said hi and started into our lunch. It was getting hot and we had an uphill in front of us.
We started up the trail once more and Brandi decided that she liked my trekking poles. We got up the hill and before long we were approaching our turn. The map was doing pretty good at showing the way so far. We rested once more for a bit then turned down the forest road that headed down to the lake and our camp site.
After about a half of a Kilometer we came upon a path to the left that I figured was our turn that would take us along the ridge and show us some nice views of the lake and surrounding area. As we hiked, I noticed we were traveling down hill which I didn't see on the map. When we were resting I checked the compass and noticed we were heading NE, which was not on the map either. I pulled out the GPS to confirm our position and when it locked on, it looked like we were still on track. We continued to hike down and crossed a creek. By now, I confirmed that we were on a different trail, but it looked like it headed to a road which would take us down to the lake road and to our camp. When the trail turned back once again, I started to doubt our course some more. What I should have done at this point was scout forward with no pack to see where it went, but what I decided to do was turn back an hopefully follow the creek to the road. That course proved too thick, so I decided to turn around and head back to where I know my position, which was back to the forest road. The grumbles of the group fell behind me as I hurried up the hill, dropped my pack and went back to help Brandi with her pack. Before to long we were back on the path and had probably traveled about 1.5 miles more than planned.
We headed down the path and it was not too bad. We passed the real turn within 100 meters of our wrong turn, but decided to stay on the path which was a straighter path to the camp. There were spots of close brush, rocky path and the heat was pretty stifling, but we continued on and after a while, we arrived at a creek side campsite within a 100 meters or so from the lake. Alex and I scouted some, checked out the lake and found two other camp sites to choose from. My favorite was the one in the middle and we decided to use that one for our night's rest.
Around 9 pm, we all pretty much headed to our sleeping areas. We had 2 two man tents and a hammock covered by a tarp. The hammock was mine and worked pretty well. Lisa and Brandi's tent was something we had bought at at Bass Pro and it turned out to not be too good. First of all, Ginger didn't want to stay inside and kept knocking down the support pole that was staked out the front of the tent. She stayed outside the tent the whole night and didn't sleep that well. Of course Lisa had to keep her hand outside the tent to comfort her, so she didn't sleep well either. Shauni and Alex seemed to have it the best. They had a nice cheap Walmart two man tent and I didn't hear any out of the ordinary complaints. My hammock did fine, but I seemed to keep sliding into a ball in the bottom of the hammock and would have to slide back up when I felt it. It was rather warm when we turned in and I tried at first to put my sleeping pad down and lay on that, but it didn't feel comfortable. In the morning when it cooled off, I could feel the coolness coming from the bottom of the hammock and sort of wanted the pad back by then.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
We had another great time doing the Warrior Dash up in PA. This time we headed up to Philly Friday night then up to Jim Thorpe early the next morning. Our wave time was 2:30 and it was a misty foggy day with rain in the air, but we all had a great time running the race then going to a nearby rented house to party the night away. The tame deer in the neighborhood were a treat to watch.
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Ginger had her usual frenetic run around with the two dogs and it was a nice warm and humid morning. I was breaking a sweat just standing there watching them play.
We continued around and broke company at the last turn. Ginger likes to lay on the cool sand after a play session, so we relaxed in the shade on the sand trail exiting the forest for a few minutes.
As we were getting up to head out, I heard a noise in the woods to the right which would have been where Tony and the boys headed to their homes. At first I thought one of the dogs had come back to say a final good bye, but that wasn't the case. It was a yearling deer. Rather small, but healthy looking. It cautiously entered the path in front of us and I had hunkered down and grabbed Ginger's collar to ensure she didn't chase the youngster.
The doe (I guess) looked at us for a second then continued into either the briar patch in front of her or along the path into the neighborhood. I hoped for the former.
I heard some more brush noise off to our right and thought that was most likely the mother, but we never got a glimpse of any other critters. After a few more minutes we headed home with a story to tell.
Now this tract of land isn't the best of habitat for deer, but we have seen sign from time to time. I guess it is mostly a covered transit zone, since there is no water in the area and not much to eat right now.
It certainly was a treat to see and felt like a very magical moment. I really like our Schramm's Woods.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
One day I will be hanging out there when the douche bag comes by and he will get a little Angry Old Man payback.
No biggie, self-reliance goes on.
Saturday, May 7, 2011
Sunday, May 1, 2011
Suddenly I heard what sounded like the squeak of one of her toys and I looked up and it looked like she had a toy in her mouth. I quickly figured out it was a baby rabbit and each time she would chomp, it would squeak. I yelled at her to drop it and of course she did exactly the opposite. I chased her around the woods for a bit until she finally dropped the poor thing and I was able to get to her.
The baby was pretty much done for. It looked like it couldn't move its hind feet and was most likely in pain and not for this world much longer.
I pulled my neck knife and quickly dispatched it by cutting off its head. I took the baby back to the camp site and quickly skinned and gutted it. There was no sense in wasting the poor thing, so I took the small carcass home with the liver, heart and kidneys and stewed the whole lot up. I mixed it all up in Ginger's dinner as it was her kill.
Later, we did our second walk into the woods and as we came around the circle I saw the tell tail sing of a cotton tail running off to my right. Ginger was on the left and didn't see it, so I stayed quiet and she never noticed. As we were almost done with our walk and after Ginger was back on the leash we say one more rabbit and Ginger appeared to see it too, but she didn't even try to go for it. Maybe she had enough killing for one day.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Also, I have been planning on on expanding the small garden a little and today we got some wood and top soil and I got it done. Ginger likes to go back there and bark at the neighbor dogs, but she will adjust fine.
Today started out a little cool and rainy, but it turned rather warm later and turned out to be a rather nice day. Around sunset, Ginger and I headed into the woods and she got to play with her friends for a while. I then came home and made a little fire in the chimera out back. I tried to do a bow drill, but it didn't seem to be cooperating and I just flashed some spark into my nice birds nest with my ferro.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
The trail starts up as steps leading up the hill and very quickly turns into steep rock strewn climbing. This first picture is from a few hundred yards up the trail looking down to the full parking lot.
It was just about noon as I headed up and it was quite hot. There were lots of people heading up and down. Some kids that looked like they were having no problems at all and some teens that would just buzz right past me as the jogged/trekked up the trail. I would try to keep a steady pace, stopping to rest every once and a while and constantly drinking water as the sweat poured out of me. I had to take this picture to get the cactus in the frame. The views were already spectacular and kept getting better as I got higher.
At one point I stopped to rest and drink and I looked down and saw this little guy looking up at me, so I took his picture. After that I saw quite a few lizards and on the way down saw a huge iguana. Some of the trail was so steep there was a hand rail that you could use to help you get up and down. It was quite a trek. Just when you thought you had reached a summit, you would see another climb that was hidden a short time ago and the climb would continue.
I got to one point that was about 3/4 up to the top and had to sit for a bit and rest. I took this self portrait as a memento. I was pretty tired at this point, but determined to get to the top. By now, even though I was constantly sipping water, I was feeling the effects of losing so much sweat. The climb up was exhausting as you were constantly using your legs and hands to get a little higher, seeking good places to put your feet; sometimes fairly easy rises, sometimes large ones that took some good leg work.
I could see the summit by now and was more determined than ever to get to it. The last leg was just as hard as the rest, but before long, I was at the top. There was a nice breeze and I sat for a bit, drank the rest of the water I had in my first bottle and then started the trek down.
Going down wasn't as fatiguing as coming up, but it was a constant set of squats as I would bend to get low and not slip, then I would lower my legs using my hands to support and then move to the next drop. After a while I knew why I had seen some of the hikers wearing gloves. The rock of the mountain is a rather rough granite that would start to wear on your hands for a while.
I was able to get down 15 minutes faster than coming up, but the whole hike was a good 1:45 with a distance covered of about 2.4 miles or so. The elevation gain was 1,264 feet.
It really felt good to do this hike and even though I was shivering with dehydration, I felt good after the hike.
All night long my legs complained about what I had done to them and in the morning my quads, calves and even my heels were very sore. It was quite a good workout.
I thank John and Candy for recommending this hike. It was certainly better than sitting in a conference that covered stuff that I had not interest or involvement in. I would love to be able to do something like this on a weekly basis. It would be such a good workout.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
I landed in 88 degree sunshine and into a landscape I am not too used to. I headed up to my hotel and settled in.
I called an old friend who lives in the area and went over for an evening of steak, salad, tater tots and beer. There was also lots of catching up and reminiscing. They have a beautiful house in a wonderful neighborhood. It was a good time seeing their grown and growing children and seeing that they were still doing good.
Today is supposed to be 90, but I should be indoors most of the day and doing the job I came here to do.
Time for breakfast.
Sunday, April 17, 2011
I got my shelter up and set out my sleeping bag. The sun was due to go down at 1945, so around about 15 minutes before that, I got the fire going. I made some noodles for supper and settled in to enjoy the woods in the evening hours. I had brought a six pack and started working my way through it.
The evening was pleasant and I worked on making another frog gig using a length of pine and some hanger parts. At around 2200 I hit the sack and slept as best I could through the night. Of course it is still sleeping on the ground. The sleeping pad is pretty thin and not very good and I had pillow issues as usual. This time I put my rain gear in a dry bag and sealed it up. I was hoping the air would stay int there and help make the pillow soft, but it seemed to lose its air after a while.
I awoke around 0600 got the fire going made some oatmeal and broke camp. I had a bit of a headache from the beers, but other then that it was a good night out.
Friday, April 15, 2011
It shouldn't be too difficult or anything. I saw a list on a forum where the guy tried to limit his kit to 15 items. I am going to try the same. Here is what I plan on packing in:
2. Fire Kit
3. Space Blanket (Shelter)
4. Sleeping bag (MSS)
5. Bivi bag
6. Roll mat
7. Cook Kit
9. Head Lamp
11. Food and water
13. Hygiene kit
15. Rain Gear
All will easily fit into my Medium Alice pack. I hope to head into the woods later in the day when the kids have headed home, so I don't attract any undue attention. Set up should be quick; just a cordage line with the space blanket set up in lean to fashion. Start the fire and enjoy the evening. A few beers should help set the mood. I should take a project to do, if I can think of one.
Today is supposed to be about 60 degrees and it should go into the 40s overnight. Saturday speaks of showers and thunder storms all day long.
Update - 1644:
I have played with the pack a few times; going through the list and just putting what I need in it. I weighed it and it was about 3olbs. Quite a lot for a one nighter that is about 500 yards from my house. The MSS itself is 10lbs. I took everything out, dumped the black sleeping bag and repacked everything and I like the feel a little better now. I put the main sleeping bag inside the Alice (it just wasn't full enough with what I was taking) and wrapped the sleeping pad in the bivi and put that on the outside. Ginger and I will be taking a walk into the woods soon and then I will head in about 1900 or so. Sunset is scheduled for 1945. Let the fun begin.
Monday, April 11, 2011
I have been playing with the porch on the end of the shelter with mixed results. It kept falling down or was knocked down by the gremlins of the woods, but this time I buried the two front supports about 8 inches or so. It was still a little wobbly until I put up the side supports. I am harvesting bark from nearby dead trees to act as shingles and will probably finish off with leaves and other floor debris.
I have also repositioned the opening of the fire ring to better facilitate putting a lean-to basically right in front of the camera. The prevailing wind comes from the right side of the picture making the position of the debris shelter not the best. The ring is also a little too far from the shelter, but it does have its uses.
Here is another angle that show the bark shingles. It is still a work in progress, but it is going pretty good.
I hope to spend a night here real soon.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Also, yesterday, as Ginger and I were on our second walk into the woods when I came across some wood-sorrel. I snacked a little on some and Ginger even thought about trying some. I don't think she liked it too much.
So this morning, I brought along the camera and took a few pictures of my findings.
Here is a River Birch tree that I planted in my front yard. The best darn tinder you can use. Mixed with the Broom Sedge makes for an awesome tinder bundle that works great.
On the walk I found some wild chives, dandelion and wood sorrel. Spring has sprung.
Saturday, April 9, 2011
We drove over to the northern side of the city yesterday to have some lunch at Cheesecake Factory with the college going daughter. It was a good meal and the area is cool to visit, but very city like. On the way back I went to Home Depot to return a full set of sockets that I bought when I only needed one size (15/16). Earlier that morning I had watched a video of one of my Pathfinder classmates making a hobo fishing kit and I had that on my "list" of things I wanted to do, so I used the refund to pick up some PVC pipe and connections. As I was putting it together in my mind, I thought of another way to do the frog gig set up and I bought a couple extra parts to try and get that together.
I spent the late afternoon putting together the hobo kit and today I will paint it if weather permits. I also hope to hit Walmart today for some fishing stuff that I don't have already. Namely line and bobbers that will fit into the kit.
This morning it still looks gray out and the temperature is still in the 40's, but Ginger has shown up at the computer room at 0800 sharp and if I make any moves away from the chair, she will take that as an indication that it is walk time.
Well, I guess it is time to hit the woods...
p.s. Also, I did some more research on the Michaux State Forest up in PA. It is about a 2 hour drive, but I think it would be nice to just head up there one weekend to explore and maybe do some dispersed camping bushcraft style.
Friday, April 8, 2011
First of all, the trees are starting to sprout their yearly growth and the understory is starting to green up. This will provide my PS with a little more concealment and keep the nasty kiddies away.
Speaking of the kiddies, they have wholeheartedly jumped into their moto-cross trail building. The good thing is they are concentrating on the southern end of the woods, near where we enter and are pretty far from my PS. There are others who still play nearby, but have seemed to stay away from my shelter for now.
I got another idea on what to do with all the hangers I have from dry cleaning my uniforms. Those things sharpen up real nice and are sturdy enough to become a decent frog gig. I did a test assembly on a short piece of stick and I think it would work just fine.
I took four pieces of hanger about 6 inches long and bent about 1/2 an inch at the non sharpened end into a 90 degree angle. I drilled four holes into the end of the stick about two or so inches down. I put the small end into the hole and secure the four prongs to the shaft with para-cord. It seems to be pretty stable and should work. I hope to get a full sized prototype together soon and maybe test it out if I can find a pond with some frogs.
I am anxiously waiting a chance to spend a night in the woods. Just a simple set up to test out my modular sleep system with its bivvy bag. Weather isn't a factor. I can set up and stay in any type Mother Nature wants to offer. I would like to have Ginger with me, but I don't want to wake up to find her gone because she decided to head home and get away from the crazy guy. Still thinking about that one.
Until next time...
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
I might do it this Friday or the one after. I think it will be fun.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Ginger, Lisa and I walk the woods on a daily basis and I have been hanging out at my PS quite a bit, making fires and playing with my toys. I had been planning on re-doing the debris shelter soon and these events helped make that happen.
Quite a few weeks ago, after I had been out of town, I noticed that someone had disturbed my site, knocking down some of the shelter supports and the fire ring. I also noticed that someone had taken some boards and hammered them into four close together trees very near my site. It looked like someone was moving in. After my camp was disturbed a second time, I had had enough and I decided to take action.
I dismantled their construction and left a note telling them I didn't appreciate their disturbing my camp and hurting the trees. I signed it Angry Old Man and figured I was either starting a war that I would fight ruthlessly or setting some rules that they would follow.
A few days later, I found a note in my shelter. It was basically an apology and they promised not to piss me off anymore. I responded that all was well and if they wanted to learn some bush craft, I was willing to share what I knew. It seemed that I was going to have some more students/teachers in this fun new hobby/way of life I have gotten myself involved in. I even set up a ziplock with some paper and pencils calling it Tree Mail so we could exchange notes more easily. It lasted about two days...
About a week or so ago, Tony, A guy who walks his dogs there, and I were sharing a fire at the site when we heard a group of loud kids enter the woods. They had shovels and hammers and implements of destruction and were apparently building a jump for their mini bikes along one of the main paths. They saw our smoke and loudly investigated, moving away when they saw we were still there. It was getting dark and Ginger and I had to get back, so we headed out. The next morning I was not surprised to see the shelter push back and the fire ring disturbed. I quickly fixed the damage, but decided it was time to re-do the shelter anyway. I am trying to make the site as concealed as possible.
So the potential still exists for a nice little war with the kids. They really don't want to piss off a couple of older men that know how to one up young kids without actually hurting them. I am ready for war or peace, whichever they choose.
I rebuilt the shelter. It is smaller this time, but would do the trick if needed. Last evening Ginger and I went in again after I had seen the kids doing their thing again in the woods earlier. All was well, but I decided to build a porch on the shelter and set about putting up the framework until it was too dark to see well. I will continue to improve it as time allows and hopefully it will not get kicked over anytime soon.
The adventure continues in Schram's Woods.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
We hopped into the van and headed down to Quarterfield Rd and parked at the beginning of a development where the path heads into the woods.
There are a lot of posted signs at the edge of the road, but we found the path and headed into the woods. At the beginning, there are quite a few brambles, but as you get deeper into the woods, the undergrowth thins out and the woods become more mature.
After we got well away from the road, I let Ginger off the leash and she was able to range into the woods on either side of the trail, smelling the smells of the woods and have a grand time.
We went in about a mile or so and all was going well when all of a sudden we saw about 5 or 6 white flags pop up about 30 yards away. Ginger takes off at these huge squirrel and of course she isn't listening to me now. I called after her, but she kept on and I was a little worried. I blew my whistle and saw that she was already coming back. I was glad she didn't disappear forever. I put her on the leash for a while and we continued our walk.
After a while we headed back to the van and returned home. It was a good time with some new sights and smells. I think Ginger had a blast.
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Today there was a huge vulture at the deer carcasses. It jumped into a tree as we walked past and Ginger didn't know what to make of it. I didn't let her approach and I don't think she really wanted to anyway.
After a quick fire and some work on the site, it was time to go. The vulture still was munching on the rotting deer but Ginger still didn't want to go near the big bird.
On Friday, we had a nice rain going and I went to the PS to try the Mini Inferno product in less than perfect conditions. I was successful, but it took a bit more work than usual. Here is a video of the task.
Spring is near. I'm pretty much ready for it.
I'll see you in the woods...
Friday, February 18, 2011
This winter hasn't been too hard, but I felt an extra spring in my step and a little flutter in my stomach that tells me I like the current change. The warm air just feels good.
I think it is heading towards 70 today, so I will try to take some advantage of that, since it appears this is just temporary and by Sunday we will be back to the high 30s.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
I have been steadily trying to put something together that I can get through security with no problem, but that would help me if needed during an emergency.
My key chain has become an EDC. I have a very small knife that hasn't had a problem getting through security yet, a small fire steel, small pin light and a 4 way whistle (compass, magnifying glass and thermometer). There is also a set of pace beads that I made from paracord.
I usually pack a few other things that I throw into a little bag like duct tape and a bandanna and I plan on adding a few things to make my airline travel kit fairly complete.
Once through security, the key chain goes in my pocket and the other items are at my feet. If we are evacuating I will make every attempt to grab that bag and throw it out in front of me.
Once I add a drum liner inside a zip-lock bag wrapped in about 30 foot of paracord, my kit should be complete.
Knowing more and needing less is always the goal, but if you have some gear, everything is a little bit easier.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
We try to get into these woods at least once a day. Usually Friday, Saturday and Sunday are my opportunity to have a nice morning walk with Ginger. We do the trail in different ways depending on our mood. We always stop at our Personal Space (PS) to add a stick to the shelter or some kindling to the wood pile. It is a peaceful time.
The woods are made up of pine, oak and hickory mainly. There is a row of sassafras along the field edge and a persimmons tree or two. Holly is scattered here and there. It is a nice woods.
There is a path circling the woods with a few cross paths connecting the edges. It has been widened throughout for quad usage, but they are in there very often.
I enjoy the early morning peace the woods gives me. I love getting into the woods and my bush craft blood starts flowing as we pass the guard rail and strike off the paved school trail that connects the two neighborhoods. It isn't wilderness or remote, but I take what I can get, when I can get it.
We can have fires at the PS and one day soon, I will be trying out my Modular Sleep System (MSS) that I got for Christmas. It is just the Chinese one, but it seems warm enough. A night out in the winter woods, close enough to home so I can abort if needed will be the test.
This morning was very nice. It was a calm 25 degrees and I was dress properly so I stayed comfortable as we did our circuit.
I am most at home and feel the most profound peacefulness as I walk these and just about any woods. It is good.
Saturday, January 1, 2011
I went over an old school friend's house and drank some beers that night and the next morning I took a walk down to the river. I started out going down River Rd which really isn't a road anymore. It is all torn up and they are dumping a lot of clean fill at the beginning of the road. I made my way down to the tracks and started walking south along the tracks as I carved a wooden spoon I am making. I got to the next road that comes to the tracks and started up that road. I noticed a few turkey tracks and as I got up the road, four of them crossed the road and headed up the hillside. It looked like 3 males and a female. It was a nice walk and when I measured it, it came out at about 2.4 miles.
After a great New Years Party, Tom and I headed back down to the river. This time we decided to head down Carson Ave, which is really just a path that heads under the main road and down to the tracks. Our first obstacle was a gully that had been cut by a broken sewer pipe. We had to drop down about 7 feet or so and it was a little scary. Next, we had to work through a wall of poison ivy branches that were empty, but still potentially poisonous. The path is basically gone after the bridge and I had some problems sliding down the hillside and got a lot of burrs on my jacket, but eventually we got to the tracks and started walking North this time.
We found a little place in the woods next to the river and made a fire. It had been raining all morning and everything was wet. We found some dry locust bark and I used a cotton ball to get something going. I had found some milkweed pods and used that as a tinder and it really flashes up cool like. You really need to mix grass and bark into the milkweed seeds to get a proper fire going. The cotton ball did the trick to have enough flame to get the fire going. It burnt slow and we had to dry out most of the sticks before they would burn, but we had a nice fire.
I had brought along my reusable space blanket, a 55 gal drum liner and some paracord and I set up the blanket as a cover to keep the rain off us. It was a good camp and we hung out for a while then walked up the old road near where we were and it was in just as bad shape as the road near the house. We got back to civilization and walked through the streets back to the house.
Of course I forgot my camera again, so I didn't get any pictures.
Some good bush practice and always a fun time to sit by a fire.