Saturday, July 31, 2010

AWitW 30-31 July 2010

Last night me and the combat puggle went to Tibbet Knob for a campout. We came rolling in right before 2000, there were a pair of local townies camping at the site past the Tibbet Knob overlook, but there was plenty of room. Me and Daisy set up basecamp and then went to go watch the sunset.

Daisy's first campout was reasonable traumatic for the dog. She kept on abruptly standing up and growling at something in the woods(who knows what). At around 0100 she jerked awake and stared out the mesh of my tent making the distinctive chirping noise she makes when she sees or smells another canid(I've been hiking with her and she spotted a fox. She makes the same noise as if she is seeing another dog). Glancing out I could see it moving around across the campsite, and it made a cry that I had associated with Coyotes. Nice.

Around 0200 I woke up to find myself off my mattress, out of my sleeping bag, and somehow the dog took up occupancy. What the hell?

And so it went on throughout the night. Sometime before 0600 we stumbled out and looked around, then hiked back out before 0800. Dog was dead tired. I'll definitely be doing this again, obviously she needs to get acclimated to sleeping in the woods.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Continuous stream of consciousness

The Kindle 3
My buddy Ryan is cackling with glee that I just bought the Kindle 2 with the Kindle 3 being announced yesterday. While there are rumors that I stated in the past that I had no interest in the Kindle, I have found myself very fond of it. In fact, I am super-duper pleased with it, and have loaded it down with super-thick history booksof the Oxford History of the US series. You know, the kind of books that people look at you like you're mad and dangerous when you say "oh, I'm reading this 1200 page book about early colonial era for fun." I'm not convinced that the K3 represents an upgrade-worthy device to the K2.

Starcraft 2
I got it on Tuesday and I've been playing through the campaign. The gameplay is exactly, and I mean exactly, like the original Starcraft of the late '90s. I suspect that Blizzard didn't want to update it any more than needed so as to not cause a horde of Koreans to storm their corporate headquarters.

Haircuts, CNN, illegal immigrants
Being a military brat I always got my hair cut at the barbershop on base growing up. Then I went ot A&M in the Corps of Cadets and went to one of the barbers that all the cadets went to. Then I joined the navy, and used the barber shops on base again. Since I worked at the Pentagon, I used the barbershop there as well. Seeing a pattern?

This has positively ruined me in regards to civilian barbers. They take too long. Too DAMN long, and get(IMO) way into getting every last spot. They also seem to inordinately chatty. As you might be able to guess, I got a haircut today, and they had CNN playing on the TeeVee in their shop. Of course CNN was covering the kerflaffle in Arizona regarding the protesters that had arrived to protest that Thug in Phoenix who is dead set on enforcing the recently overturned provisions of SB 1070, Federal Judiciary be damned!

The irony of course is that I had a little Asian lady cutting my hair, and she was insisting on me divulging my country of origin. She did not accept that I was a native born citizen thanks to my speech impediment.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Too Damn Hot

While talking to a user at a site overseas, the guy on the other end(Tim) suddenly blurted "Hey, were you on the Bunker Hill?" Turned out it was someone I had stood watch with for a few years.

A few weeks later he was in town on travel, and I took him to Obrycki's in Baltimore. The place is suitably local, even though I don't care much for seafood myself. It was pretty awesome to run into old navy buddies. Like me he had gotten out of the Navy, and ended up staying at his last command as a civilian rather than a uniformed guy. He's been at this overseas site since 2005!

I have a murder of various hiking gizmos I got for my birthday. A stove, cookware, and a mattress. At the moment it is just too damn hot to hike during the day, although I'm considering getting up super early tomorrow and hike with the morning sun. Here's a picture of my backpack weighed down with all the accouterments. Still missing a water filter.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Old Man Matt

28 years old today. Yeesh. I had a conversation with my grandmother that went like this:

G: Just think, it won't be long before you hit the big three-
M: Grandmommy don't say it!
G: -Oooohhh!

Friday, July 16, 2010

AWitW 16 July 2010:Take a Knee

Massanutten is a short mountain chain in the middle of the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, and today I headed out to Bird Knob which is located towards the Southern end of it. According to Earl Schaeffer(the first Thru-hiker of the Appalachian trail) Massanutten got it's name from being a "Mass of nothing."

It was going to be hot and humid today, at least as much as it was last Friday, but like a Alzheimer patient I completely forgot how miserable I was and decided to give it a shot. The stretch of the Massanutten Trail I was going to go on was reasonably level, although the first mile was pretty steep. I also noted that the trailed was rated poorly for solitude, implying it was Touristy. The potential for Bad Luck was increased by me running late getting out of work, meaning I would hike a lot more in the hot hot sun.

I arrived at the Trailhead and discovered that the Forestry service had a Ranger Station there. It was closed(even though the hours showed it was open) and there was a sign cheerfully warning me of poor air quality today.

Moving along I decided to go ahead and head off onto the trail. I went stumbling along for about a mile, busting my balls in the humid heat, big rigs whizing by below me spewing out fumes and making it worse. I was clear now that the low solitude rating came not from the day hikers, but from the damn freeway below. It was incredibly rough and I was throughly miserable. About half a mile in I decided to turn around and head back.

So, I went home. Honestly, I'm not sure why I went out there even though I knew the temperature would make me so miserable. A lot of the hiker "literature" advises "10 Before 10" rules for hot nasty other words get up at oh-dark-hundred and hike 10 miles, then sit and rest until the late afternoon/evening before continuing on. Makes sense.

Tomorrow I'm celebrating my B-day with (one half of) family. Ugh I feel old.

Friday, July 9, 2010

A walk in the Goddamn Woods 9 July 2010

Holy smokes it was hot and humid out. Not just hot, but as my old chief used to say, "Africa Hot"! The planned hike was a 6.5 mile one(maybe longer since it was an out and back) but we only made it a little over 4.

First I seemed to travel over an inordinate amount of poorly maintained gravel road to get to the trailhead despite freaking Mount Weather being right near the trail. I guess "secret" government bunkers don't get paved roads. Me and Daisy walked on down and encountered one hiker, a retiree who was section-hiking the AT, and once he was finished with the Virginia section and 8 miles he missed in New Jersey he would have walked all 2200ish miles of the AT. Wow! However, he hadn't seen anyone else the previous day, possibly because it's be a gazillion degrees out.

Me and Daisy were gulping water, and I was covered head to toe in sweat. Not "pitting and around the collar and back where the pack was", but head to fucking toe. Everytime I would stop to sip from my Nalgene Daisy would sit, pant like she was having a heart attack, and look beseechingly at me. We managed to kill 1.5 liters before we even reached the 2 mile mark. Sighing, I turned around somewhere around 2.3.

More than ever before my backpack(I am hiking with a "war load" to condition myself for my section hike through Shenandoah) seemed ultra heavy. How big is it? Well, you've seen it next to Daisy, but for better context...

The Backpack, by the way, isn't anywhere near full. I may need to consider a smaller pack

Friday, July 2, 2010

A Walk in the Woods 2 July 2010

Today I went out to Big Devils Stairs in Shenandoah National Park. I decided to take the combat puggle with me. Before I left I loaded down my Kelty Coyote backpack to the point that it weighed 30 lbs as part of my physical conditioning plan. Realizing that the pack now weighed as much as Daisy, I harnessed her to it so I wouldn't have to worry about holding her leash.

I did not care for the hike. Simple put...there was nothing special about it. The Falls were completely dried up, probably thanks to the drought we've been having. Daisy turned out to be able to pull along a 30lbs backpack with ease when I set it down. Damn dog is RIPPED.

Anywho, as I moved back to the car we stopped at Gravel Springs Shelter. Two long distance hikers, Walking Wounded and Two-Dog were breaking camp as we arrived(Walking Wounded was a female 20-something wearing a SPCA tee shirt and wanted to take a photo of Daisy. She was taking a picture of every dog she encountered on the trail). WW and 2Dog related that the night before they had had one hell of a wildlife encounter. Late the previous night they(and other hikers in the vicinity of the shelter) woke up to what sounded like a baby crying. Everyone in the area went out into the woods, flashlights in hand, looking for the baby. It was a wounded Fawn. Before they could even approach the Fawn a black bear appeared and dragged it off deeper into the woods. Circle of Life.

Daisy got some water and rested at the shelter while I read the registry. After adding my own entry we headed home. When Daisy is laying down with her head up she looks like a Sphinx. She spent most of the ride back curled up, making her look like Falkor the Luck-Dragon...which is a probably meaningless comparison to most people out there.

Happy 4th of July Weekend everyone! I'll be working.