Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Goat Vs Homework

Now a goat is not exactly a pleasant pet despite what people may believe, the Pigmy Goat especially.
They like to be scratched and petted like most animals, but its almost hard to get yourself to do so as the Male goat liked to Urinate in his face, curl his lip, and look at you. Yea everyone dreams of petting a Urine covered animal, I just dont get Animal Attraction sometimes bleh.
Anyhow I had this old Goat, he was a handful to say the least, he liked to jump on everything goat style, and loved to bury his horns in whatever may be nearby, especially your Arse should you be bent over.
He got us all a time or two but overall his relatively cute all be it pissy appearance kept him out of the butchering block and in our good graces.
Now as a goat he would eat damned near anything so garbage had to be kept in check, or anything else you may have to have sitting around. And one fine morning I would find this out. Now I was famous for not turning in my homework, usually because If I had not bribed some girl to do it for me it simply did not get done, on the rare occasions that I did do it usually I would forget it at home.
Well I was tired of Being threatened  with not passing if I did not turn in my homework, so one fine night I burned the midnight oil and got it done. I made sure to put it with all my school books and set it by the door so I couldnt forget it.
Now this morning was somewhat unusual for another reason, I was actually ready for the school bus, so what is a country boy to do with extra time on his hands before the bus shows up? Why take a leak next to a fence post and out mark the Farm Animals of course.
The biggest problem with this is you have to set down whatever you are carrying, upon turning back around there was that stinky old goat with a mouthful of my homework chawing down happy to have something unusual to eat. I tried to yank it from him but that turned into the usual play aspect and hits horns came to bear, uhhgg.
So I accepted my fate and faced grim faced teachers who did not buy yet another lame story "the goat ate it"
"Come on Mr. Sundberg you can do better than that"
If I could have, I would have, sigh.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Hybrids are they worth it?

So curious a friend and I  were having a discussion about gas mileage last night. My contention is it does not pay the vast majority of the time to buy a Hybrid vehicle, or any new vehicle.
If you do the math it appears that if you got 18 miles per gallon at 100,000 miles it would cost you $16666.00 vs 45mpg the average mileage of a hybrid would cost you $6666.00 so you would save 10k dollars over that period. Sounds good but wait if you already have a 10K truck getting 18mp it would take you 200,000 miles to equal the price of a hybrid vehicle. Without any other factors I guess if you only have one vehicle and you are buying brand new it could work out for you, but if you already have a car or a truck even its apparent you are better off without the extra new car cost.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Mountain biking the cowboy trail for the first time.

Its already been three years since my first ride in the Nevada Desert. I posted up on a mountain bike site to find out where would be a good place to go on my next trip to vegas. As luck would have it a guy from a motorcycle site who lived in vegas messaged me recognizing my User Name, he would refer me to what is known as the Cowboy trail. It is an advanced trail which at the time I didnt want to say "no I suck really bad give me something easier" so I just said thank you with male ego and headed off early in the morning, heading only one piece of advice "Carry an extra tube" which I did thankfully.
I would get up at four and start hydrating myself as it was summer in Vegas so temps would hit 100 fairly early in the morning, my plan was to be on the trail  by seven at the latest (factoring in get lost finding the area time). For some strange reason before I left the house I had a very strong urge to take my Gerber multi tool which was laying on the table, I fought it thinking it was just extra weight but gave in to paranoid instinct and tossed it in my pack.
The trail was easier to find than I suspected and my get lost time was cut significantly, within minutes I was off riding the famed cowoboy trail, rolling over bunches of horse poo I discovered where its name must have originated. I would find that the first part of the climb was a bit intimidating with some smaller drops and lots of rock outcropping far beyond my current level of climbing ability so the bike would be hauled up the majority of that hill. The sun was already out and I could feel temperatures rising quickly, but I was still not to worried I had filled my Hydration pack to its max of 60oz surely along with my belly full of water that would be enough to achieve the roughly eight mile ride to the top.
I took my time my eyes wearily focusing on the cacti along the trail, their needles threatening instant pain to whomever happened to fall up on one, I will pass thank you. I scanned the rocks and trail for snakes that would begin to move out soon and I didnt feel like rolling over a groggy rattler.
I stopped often for a photo shoot giving myself plenty of time to rest and of course take in a completely different style of riding than I was used to. The trail was fairly foreboding and I spent a good amount of time hauling my bike over obstacles that later I would be able to conquer with a few hundred more miles under my belt.
I found the trails to be poorly marked and merely pointing to the trail which looked like it was headed in the most direct line to the top not being optimal to say the least. I would end up doing a fair amount of backtracking cursing not paying closer attention to the writing on the statelands posts. The only real bonus being these trails did not have as much difficulty as the main trail and I was able to actually ride rather than hike a bike. After I found my way back to the main trail I would manage to roll over a small cacti at the bottom of a small rock shelf. At four and a half miles in would be my first experience with a flat since I was a child, and with the sun beating down and sweat pouring into my eyes I would fiddle fuddle around until I got my back wheel off and began the task, damn IM thirsty more water being sucked down, god its hot but there was no shade to be found save if I was to dig a hole beneath a cactus and crawl in. My mouth seemed to get dry with every second and the damn bicycle rim was even hot to the touch, this was getting ridiculous, to make matters worse a good quarter of my tire was penetrated by cacti needles, good thing I had brought along the Gerber.
I ended up turning the tire inside out to pull the needles, my mouth seemed to get dryer with each needle removed. Finally my task completed and my tattered useless tube tucked in my backpack I would simply put on the tire and move on. Ahh but to be so simple, because of the heat and being turned inside out the tire had stretched and simply fell over  the rim. I blinked unable to comprehend what had just happened, no way in hell, I looked to see if I could see the truck I couldnt, what the hell could I do. I checked my Hydration pack and it was already almost empty, holy cowbooza's this wasnt good, I was not looking forward to packing my bike four plus miles out in the already 100 degree heat. I cursed and messed with the tire some more, as minutes past it almost seemed to shrink, I resolved to pump it up anyhow and hope that if I nursed it down the trail it would slowly shrink and at least stay on the rim enough with the aid of the tube to get me out.
With the last drop of water finding its way thru my hydration tube I headed down the trail, my helmet cam on to record the events for search and rescue when they would find my expired body, it was important of course to record your senseless ride for rescuers as if they will care.
So off I went, my neck burning from the sun slowly burning away the top layer of skin I would ride over drops and other obstacles that I normally would have to carry the bike over. I felt like I was damned near shredding the trail only having to carry the bike a couple of times before I got back to the truck.
My head would be pounding from dehydration and  valuable lessons learned, one take more water than you think you need, take less time with photo ops, leave earlier, and dehydration and desperation makes me into one hell of a rider.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Snowshoeing has been one of those things I have never understood why it is fun, I mean it really is quit a bit of work. Not exactly sure why  I got into it even, all I know is I was tired of snowmachines as odd a that sounds. Don't get me wrong snowmobiles are a ton of fun, but it seemed like a plug was always fowling or you were getting stuck. The thing that really ended snowmobiles for me was the snowpack seemed to be getting lower and lower, being uninterested in a collision with a stump or a rock I simply quit and a few years ago sold our old machines which dad had bought new in the early eighties.
Enter the snowshoe which makes no real good sense, rather than propel yourself thru modern innovation and mechanical power you now go back to what has moved humans for thousands of years, your own body motion with something strapped to the bottom of your feet. Damn, I really am losing it I guess, anyhow on with our story. So for christmas one year my Sis and her hubby bought me a pair, I didnt get to do much with em, trudged around in the yard like some little kid excited to have a new plastic and metal toy that helped me float on top of the snow. Then I would start taking them with me out hunting, finally realizing that wading thru knee deep snow was damned near insanity. So I would toss them in the back of the truck and off I would go, if I needed em,they were there and help they did. I found the first time going on them they were easy but it seemed I would lean back a bit and walked almost like a chimp, a fitting sight for someone who has carried the nickname Gorilla and Shrek I guess, wonder if someone also mistook me for Sasquatch wearing a jacket the first couple times, come to think of it I do not shave much in the winter..........
After a bit a friend, Dave picked himself up a pair of shoes and we had our first excursion together one fine april on some harder snow, we had a good time and the best part was it was getting dark as we headed back to the truck. With the shadows looming and the trolls and brigands hiding in them Daves mind raced wondering when we would be waylaid and the coyotes which howled in the shadows would chew on his tired muscles no longer able to run. Now me I have a different vision of the dark, it is when sounds come alive, you know, that single stick can be heard breaking, the sound of a pawed foot sinking in the snow can be heard, and eyes reflect nicely off the beam of a flashlight, if I even have one which I usually do not.
Anyhow we continued thru me taking in the crisp cold night air enjoying the silence and Dave wondering why the truck was so far away and what the hell could possibly be wrong with me. Needless to say and of no surprise we made it back to the truck safely with nothing eventful happening. Dave I think had a different view of it all, in his mind I think we barely made it back to the truck with seconds to spare as the salivating wolves cricled about wondering when their next opportune chance and prey would come.
fast forward a few more excursions and we would end up in six foot of powder, still inexperienced we did not know we needed  poles at this time and falling down became a huge challenge to get up. We would under my expert guidance end up in a nice little potential avalanche bowl. Not sure my soothing words to Dave of "hey its cool just dont sneeze and we should be good" really came across that way, I'm sure in his mind it was "holy crap the wife doesn't know where Im at and we don't have beacons if we get buried". Well we made it to the top and beheld the majesty of sugarloaf peak looming before us. Dave didn't find my Idea of trudging to it all that great and with the wind tearing at our clothes and our camel backs filling full of ice we decided to climb Everest next time so back to the truck we started. Wait I wouldn't be typing this if nothing had happened, and well known for my great luck a Rivet popped which held my binding making my right snowshoe nearly useless. We stopped and the only thing I could think of to use as a tie would be a piece of cord from my backpack. Tying hard plastic together is never a good thing and it held for only a few steps, I retied it this time doubled it and taped it and that got me a few hundred yards more, Dave cut our path helping to beat things down for me like the trooper he is. Until he fell and had to put up with the humiliation of me video taping him while I picked his helpless lanky ass up out of the snow. If you have ever heard my laugh before IM sure you can sympathise with him on the humility it brings to anyone, Hyena's have been known to be jealous over it.
After he brushed off we would vow to get some poles next time, a little unsure of ski poles would do the trick or not but we had nothing to lose, until we made it back that was moot anyhow, fast forward cause obviously we made it or I would not be typing this story.
I would fix my snowshoes that night putting in an aircraft grade rivet damn it, no more problems there. Until the next day when hiking in the same area I would pop every single rivet on both shoes, luckily I had decided to toss some zip ties into my bag making the trip back to the truck more of an annoyance than anything.
I would find at that time being fed up with my current shoes that I would look into more, I found at that time that there was as shoe for every kind of snowshoeing you could Imagine. There were trail shoes for well groomed trails, others designed for a bit more snow and adventure, and of course shoes designed for quit literally scaling a mountain  with bars in the back which lifted up to keep your heal up making climbing easier. The best part of these should would be the entire frame were made with pointed teeth on them, surely this was the answer, with visions of again climbing Everest I appealed to mom since I was broke at that time for a early Christmas present. She would give in to my excuses and I would then have my kick ass glacier shoes making me ready for my next adventure. And they would work great in powder and moderate snow, on hard packed snow they earned the reputation from Dave of being "cookie cutters" as they cut nicely thru the crust making me sink while he would float along in his old "Tube style" shoe. Fine whatever but I still have the kick ass heal lift and the teeth on the bottom are bad ass. I would continue to wear these shoes  until this post, not really regretting my purchase er gift I mean and enjoying the climbing feature which they truly did have.
Since then things have evolved, we now use ski poles finding they worked sufficient for what we are doing, we have learned how to walk properly, hell we do not even notice anymore really so I guess IM safe from being tranquilized and taken to a zoo at least for now anyhow.
We would get others involved and meet up with some friends who have done it for quit a while, and with them we would learn just how dangerous it can be, avalanches not being hte only thing to look for and no longer was exposure, but now in the mix we would learn that crossing a snow covered creek is a challenge and a potential disaster for sure. It was last year when crossing one of these creeks in about eight foot of snow that we would find out, I would go across first, now mind you the only indication there was a creek was the slight indentation of the snow and a hundred or so yards down the snow would be split apart opening into a crevasse with the cold near water on the border of of freezing running below. Seeing this made it an adventure for me and I crossed first being the heaviest of the group, two more would follow with Don crossing and a hearty "well its been nice knowing you" he stepped out and the snow like on cue for a movie would give way and the gaping mouth of the crevasse would open to attempt to claim its prize. I was close thankfully and I dove onto my knees and grabbed hold of his jacket yanking him to safety, with his eyes wide like dinner plates he would murmur "now I know why they call you gorilla" Indeed I guess it is. I would then this year find out his feeling as I was crossing to have one open up on me, now mind you the snow was half the depth but I was not looking forward to trying to climb out of snow as deep as me with my feet soaking in a creek, I tossed myself back like a walrus trying to crawl onto an ice shelf and dreamt I had tusks, no tusks but I wallowed back up more seal like to safety, damn this is quit a bit of work and I would have to be more careful in the future. Today's trip was quit a bit less eventful with merely walking and chatting up a snowmobile trail which doubles as a road for those who insist on looking at nature thru the safety of a cage and glass in the summer. For us it was adventure, it was a time for bonding and swapping stories, we would build a fire and surprise each other with the johnsonville broughts we thought we would outdo each other with.  With more miles on our jaws than on our feet we headed back to the trucks and to the comfort of our homes. If nothing else a good time bonding with friends was achieved, Everest would have to wait.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Helicopter Lessons

So lots has happened over the past couple of weeks. Everyone knows I was planning a big trip to Asia, Work didn't grant me the time off with any real notification making that trip next to impossible. So I got a little depressed, ended up buying a newer pickup I am still not sure I could afford and dreaming of my dream trip yet again. I decided on Sunday I was going to find work in vegas and move after a couple of potential job offers at local dealerships, hell why not? Just how hard can it be to find work in the second worst state for unemployment in the nation? So I spent the past couple of days scanning help wanted ads seeing what would suit me and for no apparent reason going along with my here and there mind I somehow decided to get a commercial pilots license flying a helicopter, yea I know how that one came to be is beyond me. Thus far in life my only knowledge of a helicopter comes from watching Airwolf but it does not seem like it could be that difficult of a piece of equipment to handle, after all, unlike a plane you can just hover in it.
So I called this morning and got an appointment to take an expeditionary flight at the local airport. The ad promised a little stick time and some actual training before flight, sounds like fun I thought, fast forwarding in my mind to flying aid in and out of some disaster ridden town in the middle of a Jungle. I arrived at the airpot dressed a little nicer than I would have liked just leaving a job interview. I was greeted by a smiling lady instructor wiht hair pulled back tight in a flight jump suit. She promptly went straight to business starting with pre flight paperwork and going over the fundamentals of the helicopter with me.
"Whoa whoa whoa" I exclaimed, just how much is this costing me? she names her price, I thought surely I had misunderstood her so I replied "you mean 1025" she shook her head, only if you want, yea hum no I will go with what I think you said. So we continue with the paperwork, I bore her with my usual managerie of questions, both relevant and well off the wall.
We then continue out to the flight pad and get in a golf cart, wait wait this is getting to be a bit to real, golf cart? You mean I get shuttled important person style to the Bird?
Yup apparently so, she starts out by looking over her shoulder and driving forward, and the solution to this was blatantly obvious to me "You want me to drive to the Bird?" I asked grinning ear to ear. Ok so flipping the instructor crap before take off may not have been my brightest Idea but I suspect you expect it from me at this point in life. We do all the pre flight inspections, and all can think of is how can I fold myself into this little Bird? well upon entering the cockpit, wait, backup after three adjustments of my boys to fold myself into the cockpit we start all the preflight jargin with instruments and the like. Now the big part, radio talk, shit, I cant hear it, the motor is roaring and the Bird is shaking, She asks for a second flight path and apparently its confirmed as we start to lift off. Man lemme tell ya seeing the ground move away while you move straight up is an odd feeling, my stomach somewhat sunk and my hands were dripping sweat. We moved across the runway and lifted up, radio blather chirping in my ear I watched the earth fall away as the roters pushed the air beneath us.
We continued on with more instruction and a "go ahead and grab the stick" grab what? my mind had been swirling so much IM not sure I understood what the actual name of the stick was but in my excited mind that was what I heard, I steered the bird around, following her instructions "Make sure you control it, do not let it control me" as it tipped hard right and I fouond myself wondering if we could just fall out of the sky with my inexperience, her calm voice guided us back with Im sure a bit of her gentle touch as here hand was right there the entire time. I watched the gauges and learned I had a lonnnnggg way to go until I was able to fly by the seat of my pants. I was happy about one thing though, it wente better than flying on the video games where I always seemed to crash, well not on a helicopter, never tried one before on a game that I remember, but I do recall thinking on airplane flight simulators I was happy they were not the real thing or rather it was not a simulator. after we passed over the water tower I commented on checck point one being reached, I can save the game now :P
We flew to the airport with her taking full control again shortly before landing. We then practiced the hovering which I thought would be easy bt oh hell no, keeping that little bugger in one spot proved very difficult, a little this way mment a lot, a little that way ment a lot more that way, ironically enough my arm actually burned from holding it up as the stick was so light it was almost like balancing a pencil on your finger. She would finally land the bird and I would be left with my mind scrambling to decide if I had enjoyed the experience or not. To be sure I am grateful; for it but it was unlike anything I had ever tried, no piece of equipment compared, but I can say this, as odd as it may sound it was like losing your virginity, a new experience that was a little unusual with a promising future after you get used to it.
Not sure where to take it from here, hopefully I can move down, find some work and go fly into a jungle dropping supplies to some remote village, not holding my breath, but I am in the meantime going to focus on yet another hobby I really cannot afford, what the hell, that is what life is all about isn't it? Tasting life, one dish at a time.