StatCounter

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Deer Me

So yesterday I went for a walk around the neighborhood and I come around the corner by my house and a doe goes bounding in front of me - giving me a odd glance or two as she crossed the road. I soon found out why the odd look - there were two little fawns hunkered down in the ditch. They perked up as I walked by and one of them gets out and starts to venture out onto the road just as I see a 4 wheeler coming toward us and hear a car coming from around the curve behind us. I'm like doode, be careful, and I try to herd the little guy out of the road.

Two Little Guys Scared Shitless
 Then his sibling comes out and I realize the Mama is on one side of the road and the little guys are on the other side. I felt the need to intervene considering the time of day and the chance of cars coming around the corner. I finally get them to cross the road into my yard and where Mama is (although hiding out of sight).
I Finally Get Them To Cross The Road To Mama's Side
 Patting myself on the back and thinking I did my good deed for the day, I go to check my mailbox as is my habit after completing my walk, run, or bike ride. As I am walking up my driveway checking out the front page of the newspaper, low and behold the two little polka-dotted fawns are walking right behind me. I'm like guys, no-no-no, go back to the woods, hunker down, and wait for Mama. I'm actually talking to them at this point. So they follow me back over to the woods where Mama ducked in, I get them to hunker down, then say "Stay!" (as if they have a clue), and this time run around my front yard and up my driveway. Thinking I had solved the problem once and for all, I continue reading the paper and walked all the way up to the house and, jeez, there are the two little guys again, right behind me sniffing my legs.



At this point I am thinking of the old adage "if you touch a bird in the nest the Mama will have nothing to do with it", which I assume hold for deer as well. Trying my best not to touch them, or I should say for them to touch me (I did feel a wet nose on my leg at one point), I tried my best to get them back into the woods. I could tell the episode was tiring them as their tongues were hanging out and I am sure they were still on the tit and starving. But I knew their pleading bleats for Mama would go unanswered as long as I was on the scene. So I just went inside the house hoping they would go back into to the woods.


No such luck...they hung around in my backyard (in the bright sun) and I was starting to worry about them even more. Finally I went back outside and took them over to the woods on the side yard and just sat and stared at them, hoping they would realize I did not have a tit for them and get bored with me. They finally did. Into the woods they went and they did not come back out. Good action!

I have not seen them since, and surely hope when I do they will be grazing next to Mama!


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Monster New York State Brown Trout



Look at this gargantuan brown trout from the waters of NY state. The smiling angler that landed the brute is Jason Hettenbaugh. Pete, his proud pop and an expert bass fisherman in his own right, told me this trout was 33 inches long and weighed in at around 16 lbs. Rumor has it Jason is doing some guide work now. I have a feeling business is booming. All I can say when I see a fish like this is .... Good Action!!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Summer 2013

A Beautiful Flat Tops Wilderness Cut-bow

My annual fly-fishing trip to Colorado was somewhat of a bust this year. My timing was all off. It was the first trip in 15 years which was less than satisfying, so I guess that's not too bad. I started out up at Trappers Lake. While I did catch a few trout, it was nothing like recent years primarily for two reasons: 1) the spawn was still going on and the larger trout were at the creek inlets. 2) there were no bugs on the water! No hatches at all. I have no idea why other than perhaps some late cold weather put them down. I arrived a week later than last year and there were plenty of bugs - but not this year.

Ran into a couple from Craig who gave me some drinking water a couple years back when the campground water was not working. My buddy, who I will call  "Packman", did great from his pontoon as he was able to paddle over to some productive areas of the lake. He had a 30 fish day fishing along the shoreline and middle of the lake. Me, I was wading in Scot's Bay and the best I did was 6 or 7, most on wooly buggers and the "Fitz Special." Packman and I hiked up to a nearby lake one day and again he did well in a float tube out in the middle and me, not so good from the shore. Packman caught a couple huge brook trout in the 20+ range. Unfortunately he was too far away for a picture and besides, he doesn't take pictures of fish unless they are "really special" (as if a 20"+ brook trout is not...). Talk about a hard man to impress!

Speaking of impressing...Packman and his wife invited me over for dinner one night where they showed me a picture of the huge moose he got last season. Apparently it was enough points to make Boone & Crocket's "Fair Chase" magazine. Check out these pictures(click to enlarge). What a beautiful animal!




Hope to see you guys up in Colorado next year! Maybe I'll have a float tube by then and we can hang together catch some of those "small" 20" brookies ;)

Oh, I was walking up the hill from Scot's Bay and ran into a guy who asked me how the fishing was. I told him slow, but I caught a few. He asked on what, and when I said wooly buggers and a custom fly I called the "Fitz special" and showed it to him. He said oh yeah, I saw that fly on the internet when I was looking for info on Trappers and tied up a few - are you that guy? Hahaha. The power of the internet. Didn't see him again but doode - if you're out there, I hope you caught a few on it.

What Out For That Elk

The picture below is of the youngest campground host ever: 22 year old Cody and his faithful dog Lily.


Cody is pointing to some elk hair sticking out of the door in his vehicle. I wanted to get the hair to tie up some elk hair caddis flies, but the door was jammed shut and I couldn't get the hide out. Cody was apparently rammed by the elk as he was driving up to the campground. What a panic!

After the Flat Tops, I headed down to the Fryingpan River where the fishing was, ahhh, ok - nothing special. A second season in a row of low snow pack had them releasing very little water through the dam. As a result, the water was very low and the fish were very skiddish. And once again, there were not alot of bugs on the water. I did have a 15 fish day while fishing two sections of the river (lower and middle), but the fish were small by Pan standards and once again, very skiddish.

As usual, the first deep pool below the Toilet Bowl had some very large fish rising to very small flies in the evening. I got a few strikes on a small pheasant tail and a small Fitz special - but it wasn't what they were feeding on. Where was Packman when I needed him? I decided to leave after only a couple nights and head to the Arkansas.

The Arkansas river, as usual, fished great. The only problem was daytime temperatures were in the 95 degree range making for a very hot campground and a very warm Teardrop trailer, even after the sun went down. Although my new vent worked great, it was not enough to cool off the trailer to sleepable temperatures after getting hit by a few hours of sun and hot temps all day. I didn't sleep worth a damn both nights I stayed on the Ark. The highlight of the Ark stay was a concert by "Dr. Robert" at the amphitheater in Salida. The band played only Beatles song and the drummer, I swear, never missed a single lick Ringo ever recorded. It was very enjoyable and the crowd was into it. I would continue with what happened next on the trip but I'll just say the combination of wildfires and hot temperatures made me leave early making it one of my shortest trips ever.

I returned home to 5 straight days of rain and very cool temperatures. Go figure.

Soon after returning I harvested my potatoes and put the tops in my compost bin. I went out my back door to grill some chicken and I saw this animal buns up in the bin eating the potato tops. Turns out it was a young groundhog. I never thought they could move so fast but he was a blurrr as he ran underneath my gazebo where he apparently had made a home. For the next few weeks I saw him often - a quite happy and cheerful animal I named "Pux". He had tore up some of the fencing underneath my gazebo, but that had already been done so I thought, what the heck, live and let live. I got used to watching him with my morning coffee and in the evenings. He was a cute and happy little guy.

Then one day I was mowing the yard and saw a huge pile of dirt next to my house right where the septic pipe exits. On closer inspection, Pux had dug a large hole and left a huge 2' pile of dirt. The hole was right next to the spetic pipe, went down, did a U-turn and then must have gone down some more. I thought OK, he's creating work for me now and this is not good. He's gotta go. I called the wildlife department to get a trap and the lady said what are you going to do with him after you trap him. I told her I would throw him in the back of my truck and take him down to the river and let him free. She said it was illegal to transport a wild animal in a vehicle and that all the traps had already been loaned out. She also said most people called a pest control person of just killed the animal. Ugh.

I couldn't bring myself to shoot Pux on my first attempt and decided to just scare him with a shot. That didn't work, all it did was change his attitude. He went from a fun loving little guy to being very cautious, serious, and always had his radar on. Now it was really tough to even get a shot. I ended up having to shoot him right through the screen in my bedroom window. Worse yet, although I tried to hit him in the head to put him down fast, my first attempt hit him in the left shoulder. He flipped over and wiggled but before I could get outside to finish the job he had scooted back under the gazebo! Great I thought, now he is going to suffer, die in his hole, and I'll be smelling him the rest of the summer. Low and behold, two days later I was surprised (and elated...) to see him in the backyard back to eating and gaining strength. I looked through the binoculars and Pux had licked the hole clean and I could see no blood where he had been hit. Although his front left leg limped a bit, he still got around pretty good. Then I got sad again because I knew I still had to put him down, which I did the next day with a single shot to the head. Here are two pix of Pux. I just wish I had taken some pix of him when he was the happy-go-lucky little guy that first showed up and made my home his too. I miss him and the entire experience tugs at the ole heart strings. I can't look out my window when drinking my morning coffee without thinking of young Pux and how happy and frisky he was when he first came on the scene.

Pux



Turtle Love

Speaking of happier things, check out the turtle action I found out back by my wood pile. This guy was going at it so hard, he didn't even care if I watched and took pictures. No way he was letting go of this babe. This couple took the term "humping" to a whole new level!



So that's it for now. The rivers are still high, the dams are still releasing, and the rain keeps falling. I did get a new set of Callaway X20 irons: $299 4-SW, discontinued but what a deal! Anyhow, one day last week all I had to do was par #9 at Bear Trace to shoot 39, which would have been my best ever. I was 120 yds away with a 9 iron in my hand and was thinking "birdie bay-beee!" But I put pulled it into the left side sand trap, blasted out to 10 feet, and missed the putt for a bogey and 40, tying my previous best. Crap!

So I go out the next day to try again. I was 3-over after three holes and thought my chances were slim to match the previous days result. But a birdie 2 at the par-3 fifth hole lifted my spirits. I par'd the tough signature hole (#7, missing a make able birdie putt), and soon found myself on #9 tee with the same scenario as the day before: all I needed was a par for 39. I sunk a 5 footer to do it! "39" on the front-9, my best ever. I'm not hitting the ball any farther with the new Callaway irons, with the lower center of gravity in these irons, the ball is going much higher and stopping much quicker on the greens. I also invested in a 60 degree Nike wedge which is capable of great shots, as well as some horrid shots. Hard club to hit right, but great fun. It's like a whole new game! Amazing what getting rid of my 30 year old irons bought in San Diego in 1983 can do. I can't believe it was 30 years ago I bought those clubs for the old Burroughs golf league. THE END.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Hunter Shadow Teardrop : Vent Installation

I finally got around to installing one of the two vents I bought on Ebay for my Hunter Shadow Teardrop. The vents I bought were 9"x9" and can be seen here.

The first job was to cut a hole in the top of the Teardrop. I started by locating the cross beams of the roof and aligning the vent so the front holes could be drilled into a cross beam. The side and back holes would need wood braces installed in order to have something to screw into. When cutting the vent hole (I used a jig saw) make sure of three things:

1) Your jig saw blades (metal blade for the top, wood blade for the interior) must be short enough not to bang into the other surface. I put the blades in a vice and tapped them with a hammer to break off any unwanted length.

2) Be sure not to cut through the electrical wires that run right down the center of the trailer and feed the hatch and license plate lights.

3) Use masking tape or newspaper to protect surfaces from being scratched by the jig saw.

I cut the top hole first (metal blade for aluminum) and used that hole to drill holes through the interior wood, and cut that hole second (wood blade). Be sure to line your cuts on the wood with masking tape to prevent unwanted splintering. Here's what the top hole looked like:



The insulation went all the way across, so I removed the square so you could see the wires. One reason the Hunter Teardrops get so hot in summer is because they were made for hunters in the Rocky Mountains and were therefore thoroughly insulated to stay warm in fall and winter. Needless to say, I pulled out all the insulation from the compartment I was working on. I have also consider taking the hatch apart and removing all the insulation from it as well.

Here's a picture after cutting the interior hole (through wood), and installing the gasket. It wasn't quite the type gasket I was looking for, but I made do with an inexpensive door gasket from Lowes. I figured I was going to seal it with silicon sealant anyhow - besides, the gasket had adhesive on one side which made it very easy to work with. I rubbed silicon gel on the gasket after placement. (NOTE: the vent directions say to use "putty tape" for the gasket, but I knew that would dry out and crack very quickly, so I went with the rubber door gasket).

Note also I had to splice the wires and add some length in order to re-route them around the vent hole.



You may not be able to see from the picture, but I had to install braces on both sides of the vent in order to have something to drill into. These pieces had to line up with the holes, and I didn't want them moving when I drilled the holes, so I attached them to the crossbeams with wood glue. The wood glue will probably dry out some day and give way, but once all the screws are in, the vent will be solid. The toothpicks were just to check drill hole alignment before actually installing the vent.

Here's what the inside of the vent looks like after adding the garnish plate:



This picture also shows off the LED strip I use instead of the old style light bulb that came with the Teardrop (and uses >100x the power for half the light intensity).

And finally, here is what the vent looks like from the outside before and after the silicon sealant was applied:



I could have done a better job sealing the screw heads, but it is what it is and I doubt seriously this guy is going to leak for at least 5 years.



I've decided to only install one of the two vents I bought, for a couple reasons:

1) I think one vent will be sufficient to significantly cool off the interior.

2) Unless you can build a platform to work on, this job can be very hard on your knees (at least it was mine). Standing on a small ladder and bending over to make precise cuts and drilling holes was tough on my knees.

3) I have a backup vent just in case some misfortune were to come to this one.

One last hint: when it comes time to seal the vent with your caulk gun, do the back or sides first - just to get the hang of it. The front seal is probably the most important (i.e. doing 80 mph in the rain), and I did it first before I had my shit together. Have some water and paper towels handy. Also, make a small cut in the caulking tube nozzle - it doesn't take much of a bead to seal the vent.

So that's it. Hopefully it will not only cool me off, but vent my exhalations while sleeping. I find myself in bear territory often and sometimes I am just not comfortable leaving the doors open. Now, I have a nice topside vent to pull air through the windows! Who-hooo!

Lastly, I finally made a very stable pod for my sealed lead acid (SLA) battery. I ended up using plumbers tape - flexible yet very rigid. The battery is held securely in the wood frame by three velcro straps. So, the battery is very easy to remove, yet is very secure even on bumpy backwoods roads.



If you have any questions, just leave a comment.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

BobV's Version of "The FEZ" by Steely Dan


On this song, BobV thinks he is Paul McCartney and plays (or programs...) every instrument on the track. We can only assume he is now busily working on the vocal...

Check it out on YouTube:

BobV: "The Fez"


Top-10 Guitar Solos


TOP-10 GUITAR SOLOS EVER: MY CHOICES

#1: Scarlett Begonias >> Fire On The Mountain
Grateful Dead: Cornell University, 5-8-1977
Jerry Garcia - Lead Guitar
When Jerry goes haywire at the end of FOTM, it puts goosebumps on top of my head.

#2 I Shot The Sheriff (Live)
Eric Clapton - Lead Guitar
Crossroads (Disc 3)
Watch a Version Live (This is not the version I picked, which I cannot find on video)
"Alright...."

#3 Spooky
Atlanta Rhythm Section
Barry Bailey/J.R. Cobb - Lead Guitars
Tight, groovy, and relentless.

#4 Reeling In The Years
Steely Dan
Elliot Randall - Lead Guitar
Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page said that Elliott Randall's guitar solo on "Reeling In the Years" is his favorite guitar solo of all time.

#5 Blue Sky
Allman Brothers
Dickie Betts - Lead Guitar
Duane Allman - Lead Guitar, Acoustic Guitar
"Wall along the river...."
Gives me a buzz every time, guaranteed.

#6 Dark Eyed Cajun Woman
Doobie Brothers
Tom Johnston - Lead Guitar
Patrick Simmons - Lead Guitar
Tiran Porter - Bass Guitar

#7 Kid Charlemagne
Steely Dan
Larry Carlton - Lead Guitar

#8 Big Log
Robby Blunt - Lead Guitar
Not real fancy, but the guitar on this song puts me in a trance.

#9 Hotel California
The Eagles
Joe Walsh - Lead Guitar
Don Felder - Lead Guitar

#10 TIE

Layla
Derek And The Dominos
Duane Allman - Lead Guitar
Eric Clapton - Lead Guitar

Stairway To Heaven
Led Zeppelin
Jimmy Page - Lead Guitar

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Teardrop Trailer (Hunter Shadow): How to Cool It?


I Am Soliciting Ideas on How To Cool My Teardrop


I have a Hunter Long Shadow Teardrop Trailer. It's been great, and I love it, but there have been times when it just gets to hot and stuffy! I am eager to hear ideas from Teardrop owners - specifically those with Hunter Shadow Teardrops who have actually made the modifications. I tried contacting Phil, the man who made the Teardrop in Idaho, but the number I had for him is no longer in service. Also, it seems from some internet chatter I have read that Wiltrek is no longer making the Hunger Shadow Teardrops. Does anyone know different or have a contact for me? If so, please write to me at fitzsimmons_mike at hotmail .com

Background:

The Fan

Yes - I did purchase the trailer with the fan/timer ventilation system. But I have some problems with it:

1) Power. The Dayton Electric Model 4WT36 fan runs on 12V and draws 0.57 and therefore dissipates 6.8W. Although that doesn't sound like much, I don't carry a car battery in the trailer as Phil suggested. In fact, I swapped out all the high wattage light bulbs in the cabin and hatch compartments with LED strips. I am now able to go weeks, reading every nite for hours, with a small 12V 12Ah SLA (Sealed Lead Acid) battery. This battery is less than 1/3 the size and weight of a car battery. My lighting is also significantly improved over the high wattage bulbs that came with the trailer.

2) The fan works only when you set the timer and turn it on. That is, during the day if the trailer is out in the sun, the fan does nothing for me. Same when you are sleeping.

3) The fan will draw air through the windows and the doors (if open). There is still a large area inside the cabin, toward the front ceiling, that doesn't really seem to get recirculated.

So, as you can see, I don't really use the fan and I am somewhat surprised this was sold as a "solution" to cooling the trailer.

The Windows

I don't really want to modify the doors/windows as they lock, are nice, and I guess I just want to leave well enough alone. I did make some screens to cover the doors and often sleep with those open. However, where there are bear problems (quite often where I camp) I am getting less and less comfortable with leaving them open at night. Even when open, they don't seem to cool off the ceiling area which seems to collect not only heat but also the used air (CO2) I expel while sleeping.

Air Conditioners

While I have seen some nifty small air conditioning solutions (the best was a small AC unit that swung over on a manufactured arm to cover a window opening), I don't really want to have to haul an AC unit, a generator, and extra gas - none of which I need to mess with today.

I also don't want to rely on any solution involving ice. I have enough trouble just keeping my coolers in ice while camping for days and sometimes weeks in the wilderness areas.

So What's left?

One helpful idea might be to get a tarp to cover the Teardrop in those campsites where the sun hits it. This is a good low cost solution, although I do worry about wind when I am not around if it blows like it did this summer in Colorado.

So it seems what is left for me is to put an air vent (locking hatch type) in the roof of the Teardrop and possibly an inlet in the bottom as well for increased convection. I have located the support cross beams in the ceiling by examining the staples on the wood trim. The cross members are 12" apart, so I could make a 2x2' square hatch on top. It would need to be curved to fit the existing roof-line. I am dying to talk to anyone who has successfully accomplished such a modification! Please send me an email: fitzsimmons_mike at hotmail. com

Thanks in advance for any helpful ideas!