Battery status: Recharged.
Yeah, I know I'm late getting this up. I only got back from Blogorado Thursday evening, and since then The Borg has been hanging it in me and breaking it off all weekend. To make matters worse, my regular partner switched shifts with a new guy who, while a nice enough dude, isn't cleared to ride emergency calls yet, so I've been running the ALS and BLS transports, and I've been buried under a nightly mound of paperwork.
Frankly, if I wanted to run this hard, I'd sign up for a friggin' day shift.
Anyhoo, last Thursday I got off work at 0800 (an hour late, as usual), and pointed the Tactical Tacoma north towards Secret Location, CO. Along the way, I caravanned up with Matt G. (who, incidentally, packs like the protagonist of a sci-fi thriller fleeing the city when the aliens attack), and we kept each other awake during the drive.
Somewhere north of Amarillo, we happened upon a little excitement to break up the monotony of our ten-hour drive. And by "excitement," I mean, "encounter with a person whose mental cheese had clearly slipped off her cognitive cracker." I topped a hill and promptly blew through a debris field in the middle of the highway, with what I thought was a wrecked SUV on the shoulder of the road. By the time I got turned around and came back, Matt had already stopped and assessed the situation, and had notified the local authorities.
I'll tell you, I gained a better appreciation of the fear and uncertainty cops face on a late-night traffic stop in the middle of nowhere. When I approach a wreck scene at night, usually there are cops there already, and on the odd occasion there aren't, it's still pretty obvious what I'm facing. Not so on this scene. As I got closer, I could see that the vehicle clearly wasn't wrecked, and judging from Matt's demeanor and the driver's behavior, I had more than a few mental alarm bells jangling.
Ultimately, there being no medical treatment to render, we left it in the hands of local authorities and continued our trek north. We arrived at our motel around 0100 (two hours after the office had closed, but our friendly
Witness Protection Program enrollee proprietor left our room door unlocked for us, and keys on the night stand), and tried to go to bed.
Honestly, we tried.
But apparently, several of the attendees who had arrived before us were still awake, so we hied forth to the FarmFam house and spent another hour drinking beer, telling stories and eating summer sausage – kind of a pre-Blogorado Blogorado, if you will.
So, we got a few hours sleep, showered and dressed, and trekked across the street to the Obligatory Cow Reference* for breakfast, which usually takes three hours and consists of 8000 calories, one bucket of lard, one gallon of coffee, 34 parallel conversations, one ritual sacrifice, and one emotionally scarred (but well-tipped) waitress.
Inclement weather took our first day of shooting away from us, but we did manage to get the range set up, scout for pronghorns a bit, and make a trek to the nearest large town for supplies and ammunition. While we were there, FarmDad introduced us to a real old-time local gunshop, the kind of place that reeks of cigarette smoke, Hoppes #9, and memories. While we were there, we spotted an elusive and rare assault tomahawk:
And you can walk right in off the street and buy one without so much as a background check!
Firewood, my ass. I think we can all agree that thing has no legitimate sporting purpose. It is built but for one purpose, and one purpose only: to hack up people from a thousand yards away. It's even got a laser sight and a sniper scope for just that!
Since the weather was nasty, we all retired early to the FarmFam homestead for FarmMom's excellent cooking, Nerd Beer and good conversation.
And that's when the waxing started.
As many of you know, the three top fundraisers for Kilted to Kick Cancer were present. Oaths and pledges were fulfilled, prize packages distributed, and new challenges issued.
Jay G. shaved his 'stache, as promised. I shaved mine in solidarity.
I'm the ruggedly handsome one on the right.
Michael Hast wore a little black dress all day at the range, and Jennifer wore her black vinyl catsuit while getting jiggled (and very fetchingly, I might add) by a .50 BMG sniper rifle. They'll have video and pics soon.
Stingray waxed his junk, as promised. As we were listening to the occasional scream of agony from the Waxing Dungeon, someone asked, "AD, what would it take for you to wax your junk?"
Without thinking, I replied, "Another $150 for Kilted to Kick Cancer."
Silly Ambulance Driver. They raised that in less than three minutes.
So then they asked, "What would it take for you to wax everything from the shoulders down?" and I thought about it for a moment, and answered, "Double it."
Silly, silly Ambulance Driver. When will you learn not to whore yourself out so cheaply?
As I partook of a little (okay, a lot) of liquid courage, I managed to convince myself that it wouldn't be all that bad. I said to myself, "Self, if they just wax your junk, you're gonna look like Bigfoot after his vasectomy. In other words, asymmetrical. The girlfriend probably wouldn't like asymmetrical. Better to get it all done at once, so everything matches. After all, they'll already be ripping the hair off your taint in one big swath, how hard could the rest of your body be?"
Pretty damned hard, it turns out.
Not only was I scarred for life, but so was Rosie the aesthetician, and FarmGirl, who stayed behind to help, um… position things as the wax was applied.
I'm really not that fat. They say the camera adds fifty pounds.
I'll bet good money Tamara never anticipated this installment of Where's Chewie?
Midway through the procedure, after I had confessed to kidnapping the Lindbergh baby and given up the location of Jimmy Hoffa's body, LawDog brought me a pint of peppermint schnapps, which came in right handy. It also had the effect of lowering my Give-A-Shit Level to an all-time low, and thus I was not particularly disturbed when Stingray came into the room to offer moral support.
Now that's love right there. Totally platonic, heterosexual, nothing-to-be-ashamed-of but still vaguely creepy man love.
So there I was, buck naked in front of an attractive woman I had met an hour before, one female friend holding my junk out of the way and a male friend holding my hand in solidarity, and the thought struck me:
There went the last of your boundaries, AD. That's not good. A grown man should have boundaries.
Luckily, I did not have to expose my newly waxed nether regions to the cool night air, because Phlegmmy had thoughtfully crocheted me a scrotum cozy to keep those bits warm. Unfortunately, I did not notice that the thing had fallen off as I donned my kilt. I'd like to emphatically state for the record that the cozy did NOT – I repeat, did NOT – fall off because it was too large.
It was cold.
I was traumatized.
Did I mention it was cold?
I will also neither confirm nor deny that one friend who shall remain nameless **cough cough Salamander cough cough** picked it up and exclaimed, "Cool, a knit skullcap! And my ears were getting cold!"
Hell no, I'm not going to put it back on. It's just been on Salamander's head, for Pete's sake!
The next day, the weather improved considerably, and everyone got to the range and turned lots of money into smoke and noise. I got to give a few folks wingshooting tutorials, and it was gratifying to see Weer'd's wife, Sci Fi and Mrs. Sci Fi busting clays.
Early that afternoon, Jay, Sci Fi, Gay Cynic, Weer'd Beard, LawDog and I cut out to cull a few prairie dogs. Jay got to try out his Leopold range finder and air out the insanely accurate MG Arms K-Yote, taking down one charging prairie dog at 381 yards, while LawDog scored on a couple at around 200 yards with my .17 HMR.
The range day culminated with me exacting my revenge on Splodey the Deer, courtesy of FarmMom's .223 and a pound of Tannerite. It was far more satisfying to wtach the deer explode instead of my grill and radiator.
The original, taken down at a dead run with a 318 Dakota.
The replica, taken down with a .223 Remington
Blogorado wound down at breakfast Monday monring, but I was lucky enough to hit the range again with a few of the stragglers, and FarmDad helped me dial in the rifle I was taking pronghorn hunting, Matt G.'s schweeeet pre-'64 Winchester Model 70 featherweight .243. A couple of days before, I had missed three straight shots at a coyote standing broadside at 150 yards, and I was thusly worried that the rifle wasn't zeroed correctly.
After spending a box of Federal 100 grain ammo whacking the 200 and 400 yard silhouettes with boring regularity, I came to the conclusion that the coyote misses could be attributed to the loose nut behind the trigger. While I didn't really want to take a 400+ yard shot at a pronghorn with an unfamiliar rifle, I nonetheless felt more confident in my ability to do so after that range session.
As FarmDad puts it, the way to hunt pronghorn on the Colorado plains is to pretend you're not hunting pronghorns. Apparently, if you act like a farmer checking his fences instead of a hunter, they'll wander close enough to allow you to pistol-whip the little beasts into submission. Unfortunately, after an opening-day weekend, the closest we could get to the herds we glassed that day was 800 yards, and most of those were glassed at a dead run.
See any pronghorns? Yeah, neither did we.
On my last day,
out of water, with my scouts and gunbearers having abandoned me three days before, FarmDad managed to put me on a small herd, and one anticlimactic stalk later, I had bagged a nice doe pronghorn at 224 yards.
If you can arrange it, shoot your pronghorn some place where you can drive a truck close to pick it up, boys and girls.
I thought I had pulled the shot high, hitting her in the spine instead of the shoulder, but I discovered later that I had somehow loaded the rifle with a Remington 80-grain round that was lying loose in Matt's rifle case, rather than the Federal 100 grain ammo we used to zero the rifle. That could explain the high hit.
Then again, it could still have been the loose nut behind the trigger.
That night, I spent an enjoyable few hours speaking to a few volunteer EMS agencies in the area, and headed home Wednesday morning. I dallied briefly in Amarillo, long enough to visit the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum and Palo Duro Canyon State Park.
After an enjoyable hour strolling through the museum, I felt an irresistible pull to the second floor, and I found myself staring at this:
Also known as Jay G. Gun Safe #3
As I entered, I was bathed in a shaft of heavenly light, an angelic choir sang, and a thunderous voice boomed, "WELCOME, MY SON. WHY DIDST THOU NOT BRING TAMARA KEEL WITH THEE?"
That's the weapons gallery at the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum. It is the third largest firearms collection in the world, and according to LawDog, what is on display is only a small fraction of the entire collection. Turn Tam loose in there with a drool bib and a backpack full of Slim Jims and diet Mountain Dew, and she'd wander out a week later, haggard but happy. My meager photographic skills do not do it justice.
They've got Quanah Parker's 1873 Winchester.
They've got Billy Dixon's .45/90 Sharps, although not the one he used to knock an Indian off his horse at just under a mile at the Second Battle of Adobe Walls. That was a hastily borrowed .50/90 Sharps, and Billy later said that the Indian he hit was sitting next to the one he was actually aiming at.
They've got Brownings and Winchesters and Smiths and Colts and Purdeys and Enfields and Springfields and garands and Thompsons and…
… well, they've got enough stuff to keep a gun nut's nose pressed against the glass for a month. If you ever get a chance, go see it.
Just south of Amarillo lies the Palo Duro Canyon, second only in size and majesty to the Grand Canyon. I took a brief tour through the park, and I'll be taking KatyBeth back there camping at my first opportunity. Again, my meager photographic skills do not do it justice.
After a lovely meal and a few beers and conversation, I spent wednesday night on LawDog and Phlegmmy's couch, and continued on to Louisiana the next morning, dropping off Matt's rifle and an antelope shoulder along the way. I arrived home by 5:00 pm, and went back to work the next day with my mental and emotional batteries fully charged.
And it's a good thing, too, because after the weekend I had working for The Borg, I need a vacation again.
*As Stingray explains it, "I’d give the proper name, but I’d really like Secret Location, CO to remain secret. Otherwise it’d just become civilization and Blogorado would fill up with assholes, and if I have to put up with assholes on my vacation, the scene will Not Be Pretty. Suffice it to say it’s like every other small western agricultural town, and local establishments sport various names like “The Jersey Heffer” or “Hoofs n’ Horns” or “The Golden Spur.”