Nothing says ‘fall’ like cutting firewood

I haven’t cut firewood in preparation for winter in a very long time. We’ve had several large limbs get sheared off some of our large oak trees in the past year – we’ve had some really high winds. I picked up a new Husqvarna chainsaw to deal with the large stuff and dusted off the old Craftsman saw as well. Its a lot more work than I recall from when I was 18 and doing this. Even so, its been nice to get out in the cooler weather and work on getting the wood cut/chopped/stacked.

IMG_1429

Size matters

Size matters

One of the gnarly hanging limbs:

IMG_1432

IMG_1439

Pahrump/Death Valley road trip

Last week I took a 5-6 day trip down thru the southern deserts on the way to the Pahrump NV for a handgun training class. The class was really good and has definitely reinforced for me that if you’re going to own and/or carry, get good training No, it wasn’t a bunch of bubbas going out to the desert to shoot up some old cars or appliances. The instructors were largely former/current law enforcement or military and the attendees were all over the map from a number of current military getting ready to be deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq, professionals such as doctors, engineers, teachers, and so on. Overall, it was a good experience and really helped me a lot.

Dry practice instruction:
Dry practice instruction

Tactical instruction:
Tactical instruction

Marksmanship competition

Marksmanship competition

Pahrump isn’t much to write home about. It gets some spillover casino business from Las Vegas, and it has the closest legal brothels to Vegas, but other than that, not much going on there. There are a total of 3 hotels in Pahrump and due to scheduling, I got to stay at each one of them for at least one nite.

The one good restaurant I found:

Tommasino's Italian

Tommasino's Italian

Heading back from Pahrump, there were some high winds which resulted in some dust squalls on the route out of town. I took the long route thru Death Valley and the Panamint Valley to the west. Very scenic and nice weather – vastly nicer than making that drive in the summer. I think the peak temps in Death Valley was high 80s, much to the disappointment of the German tourists in the visitors center/museum. I guess they were hoping for the blazing hot temps they had read about.

IMG_1286

Look, a UFO on the horizon :-)

Look, a UFO on the horizon 🙂


Down to sea level in Death Valley

Down to sea level in Death Valley

I took a side road out of Death Valley wandering up the Wildrose Road which snakes thru Emmigrant Canyon. Saw a bit of wildlife enroute: coyotes, tarantulas, desert fox and a rattlesnake (sidewinder?).

Coyote begging for food

Coyote begging for food


Remains of a mining operation

Remains of a mining operation

Nice tectonic movement

Nice tectonic movement

Water in the desert equals life

Water in the desert equals life

I’ll be heading back in this direction in a few weeks going on a Jeep trip with Cal4Wheel.

Ballarat ghost town

Ballarat ghost town

Cabela’s west coast style

IMG_1404

On my trip to Maine to visit Paula, Peter, S & N, we visited Cabela’s in Portland which is this total mecca of outdoor sporting goods. Alas, there is no Cabela’s in CA – the nearest one is in Reno which is a bit of a hike. On my way back from Pahrump last week, I finally stopped in at the Bass Pro Shop (BPS) in Manteca which appears to be our version of Cabela’s.

Don’t recall whether Cabela’s had the same policy, but BPS is not a dog friendly outfit:

IMG_1405

Rawwwrrrrr

Rawwwrrrrr

They do have some of everything here tho – just like Cabela’s:

IMG_1412

Axemen

My new Husky chainsaw arrived last week and I started putting it to the test against some large limbs that broke off one of our huge oak trees. Cuts like butter – I really like the long bar as it reduces the kickback and gives a lot reach.

Early retirement

So my days at cisco have once again come to an end – I left the 1st time a bit more than 10 yrs ago. For now I’m looking forward to catching up on a whole slew of projects around the house / yard and pondering what to do next. I just wish Lisa had time off at the same time. But certainly the puppies enjoy my being home a lot.

Jeep outing

We finally got the newly modified Jeeps out for a little workout by taking them down to the Hollister offroad recreation area as part of a 4wheel clinic put on by one of the local Jeep clubs (Esprit de Four). I pulled Paul along with me as a 2nd driver and Lisa drove her Jeep alone (the passenger seat is out of her Jeep since her passenger is typically one of the dogs and the seat is replaced with a dog pillow or two.

They had a mix of Jeeps, pickups and other SUVs. We were actually surprised by how well this older couple did with their late model Jeep Liberty (which isn’t what you’d normally consider as a serious offroad vehicle given that its more like a lightweight SUV but it does have a better suspension than other SUVs).

They ran everyone thru some basics in a classroom session and recovery demo – the winching/recovery part was the only part that had info that I wasn’t really up on, since I’ve never owned a winch before. Then they split us up into 4 groups and we started on the trails and obstacles. Mostly basic stuff, nothing too interesting until we got to the washout ravine and the real obstacle course. Lisa has little trouble with all the obstacles given her 5″+ lift and big 35″ tires. Clearly, we’ll have to take it thru the larger boulder course to have more challenges. I was pretty psyched that Lisa let me drive her Jeep on the washed out ravine obstacle, but after popping a wheely, I guess she decided that was enough and took the keys back.

All was well until late in the day when we did the stair step climb and I kinda goosed the throttle too much and the rear driveshaft snapped. Bummer. Good thing I had tools to remove it so I could drive it home in front-wheel drive mode. Lisa was totally smooth going up the stairs and barely even squeaked the tires. Oh well. Now I have a spare driveshaft in case I do it again.

Lining up to start on the trails

Lining up to start on the trails

These folks broke a clutch fork crawling thru the washout ravine

These folks broke a clutch fork crawling thru the washout ravine

Looking at the source of all the snapping/crunching noise

Looking at the source of all the snapping/crunching noise

Dang it - driveshaft snapped off at the transfer case output

Dang it - driveshaft snapped off at the transfer case output

Driving Lisa’s TJ up the ravine obstacle – not even a challenge

Catching up

Woof – not sure how we let a month go by without any updates. No, we haven’t been abducted by aliens and we’re still alive and well…

Lisa’s probably right that I (we?) have been spending too much time putting little updates on Facebook and neglecting the blog.