Thursday, June 16, 2011

Homemade Smokebombs

Finally here is what one of the smoke bombs looks like at night.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

We Almost Went Bike Camping

Gear packed. Bikes loaded. New tent ready. Then, rain appears as my niece from Taiwan, daughter, son and I arrive at the trail head. The forecast had been for dry weather, but now it looked like it would rain on and off for the next 24 hours.

Let's go! We have fenders, rain gear and don't want to be wimps. If we're going to be bike campers, we can't let a little wetness stop us from having fun. This will be an opportunity for the kids to see that we can't wait for the right weather to enjoy nature. My niece agrees to go despite the rain too.

I spent hours preparing bikes and driving to the trail head; I don't want to waste that effort. After all both my kids have done early spring, 30 mile rides in hills, wind and rain . They can take it.

But would they enjoy it. Still raining after lunch. Thinking of my niece who had never camped out before, I wondered if my desire to soldier on wasn't affecting others willingness to go. On past trips, I carefully made sure the kids' experiences with bike camping were positive. Would this outing bolster their love of the sport, or make them less apt to go in the future?

I suggested we drive the hour home and come back another day. I could tell my niece was relieved. My son said he was glad because he thought it might be a "death march." My daughter protested my decision, but quickly fell asleep in the car.

Turns out it was a beautiful night. We roasted marshmallows in the back yard before the kids slept out in the new tent. I discovered I'd rather be a dad than hardcore biker.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Two photos, 6 months and 133 Degrees

It was so hot, 103F/39C, on Tuesday, June 7th that the sidewalk at my neighbors' house expanded until it cracked and buckled. The sidewalk is about 4" thick, so I estimate it pushed up 7".

6 months earlier, on Dec. 11th, I posted the following picture. It was taken standing right where the sidewalk cracked looking across the street. The forecast was for -30F/-34.5C and 20" of snow with this storm.

Although, 133 degrees apart, I felt the giddy excitement of extreme weather both days; I love living in a place where the weather isn't monotonous.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Bow Fishing With Steve

A friend, Steve, called on Fiday night offering me a chance to try bow fishing on Saturday morning. I needed to decline the invitation so I could fulfill fatherly obligations, Chinese and soccer. I love my children, but longed to use a reel and fishing arrow I ordered a couple of months ago. I'd shot with this gear a few times in the back yard; no fish, just dirt and strange looks from neighbors.

When I heard Steve was thinking of going again on Sunday morning, I called. We had a great morning standing beside a bridge on and outlet of Medicine Lake.

I saw fish right away and shot shooting well over the fish like the rookie I was. I knew about refraction making the fish look farther than they are, but couldn't get my excited self to add brain to my instinctive shooting. Missed a few more, but then took my time to line up the shot and consciously aim low. Hit a bowfin right in the center. Bowfins are mean predator fish that have been around since dinosaurs. Badass, mean looking fish that will intentionally try to bite you . I, however, was not the one bitten. Tasty.

The next arrow aimed at a large carp. A long shot in deeper water hit the fish top center. Turns out a 25 lb fish can put up a good fight with an arrow in his back.

The pictures are of the big carp and bowfin I shot and of the carp Steve shot. I fried up the smaller carp with the bowfin, delicious. What a fun morning. After a day of shooting and eating rough fish, I think I'll go see if NASCAR is on.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Matt Dillon and Kwai Chang Caine Thanks and RIP

Today, June 3rd, 2011, marks the death of actor James Arness. His character Sheriff Matt Dillon taught me to be a man. His seminal sense of justice, duty, respect and wisdom inspire me. Sheriff Dillon got his man with constant, gentle toughness.

In high school I stayed up late Sunday nights to watch Gunsmoke and Kung Fu. A friend would do the same. Monday mornings were spent discussing the fine points of the shows while feigning interest in Mr. Adair's Sophomore English lessons. Gunsmoke was also my crusty Grandfather's favorite show. He even looked a bit like James Arness.

Coincidently David Carradine the actor playing Kwai Chang Caine of the Kung Fu series also died on June 3rd two years earlier.

These two characters helped form a young man's moral compass.