December Journal

November 30, 2008

Sunday

Went to Death Valley. Some photos:

Longstreet RV Park

Longstreet Casino RV Park

Zqbrieski Point

Zabrieski Point

Zabrieski Point

Zabrieski Point

A Raven at Artist's view

Quote the Raven:

Damn tourists! All cameras, no bread crumbs.

Natural Bridge

Natural Bridge

Badwater

Badwater Basin, lowest point in the United States

View from Badwater Basin.  SEA LEVEL sign is half way up cliff

Can you find the "SEA LEVEL" sign? View up from Badwater Basin

 

 

Sunset at Dante's View

Sunset at Dante's View

Death Valley from Dante's View-looks like an ocean

View from Dante's View. There is no ocean down there.

November 29, 2008

Saturday

Still windy. Wore a hat I could keep on. Match ended early for me when the rifle hit a post on stage 6 while I was running right to left. Swung the rifle left. Match DQ. Put guns up and spotted for the rest of the match. Helped a couple on their 4th match.

The awards dinner was moved from the casino to the range and moved to 2 PM. Went and got The Redhead. VERY WINDY. Hard to eat. Got second in speed rifle with 4.32 sec. 10 round sweep. Normally I'm not on the first page of speed rifle. Three guys got awards for Frontier Cartridge Duelist, which, you'll remember, wasn't on the entry blank.

November 28, 2008

Friday

Since the event has Wild Bunch as a main match category, I decided to shoot it, traditional style (duelist) with the "new" Colt Government Model Series 80. Side matches were in the morning. Rather strange. The matches were unmanned. You just timed someone else and got them to time you. Several unadvertised side matches, such as 1911. Did okay in the speed rifle and speed 97 shotgun, screwed up pistol, long range pistol caliber rifle (the wind was blowing ME too much to get good hits), long range pistol, pocket pistol, and speed double shotgun. Just a bit slow in everything else.

Tested the .45 Colt '73. Good thing. The ammo I just made up was too long! I made it to book spec, 1.60". Ammo that worked was 1.57". Shot the .45 Marlin Cowboy instead. Very smooth with its new Long Hunter action job.

The main match started after 1 PM. Didn't know anyone in the posse but Madd Mike. Explained the idiosyncrasies about Wild Bunch before I shot. Just as I finished saying, "The '97 is loaded, hammer down on an empty chamber," someone told me pointedly to open my shotgun. About then I decided perhaps having WB as a main match category (never the intent) was a bad idea.

One stage confirmed that. You shot one pistol and did a 5 round reload. A couple of people wanted me to reload the magazine. Huh? Shot that stage (with regular magazine change) in 20 seconds. Didn't see any that fast among the regular categories.

Of course, if WB is shot along side the main match categories, it shouldn't be included in the overalls. The stoked '97s are just more efficient than starting from an empty gun. Lots more fun, too. Shot 4 stages. The wind was horrific, very hard on hats, especially the cheap campaign hat I wear with the 1916 uniform. Gotta get a quality campaign hat. Real ones have a good chin strap that'll hold them on as well as a stampede string on a well-fitted cowboy hat.

Shooting WB along with the main match categories also prevents writing stages for WB. Can't have a 20 round pistol stage, for example. It also means you can't shoot your regular category. They didn't have my regular category in this match, so I chose this instead of moving to Frontier Cartridge. They didn't have Frontier Cartridge Duelist or Frontiersman on the entry blank.

November 27, 2008

Thursday

Thanksgiving

Had Thanksgiving dinner at the range. The range is in California! It's in the middle of the desert with a beautiful view of the mountains around Death Valley. After the dinner the Plainsman match started after 4 PM. Darkness comes quickly in the desert, and I shot the last stage in the dark. I've gotta stop bothering with events that are going into the dark. I just can't see. Learned that while I can point shoot a 1911 pretty well, I can't a ROA.

November 26, 2008

Wednesday

As I started to write this, The Redhead came to me asking for my flashlight. I handed it to her. In a couple of minutes she ran into the kitchen, agitatedly saying, "I need cat treats, and I need them now!" She grabbed a bag from the pantry and ran back into the bedroom. closing the door behind George while telling him to keep out. Some minutes later she returned and handed me the flashlight. Arthur Pendragon preceded her, looking slightly irate.

"Well, I had the clothes hamper open, and he got in. I figured he couldn't get into any trouble there. Later I went back, and he wasn't in there and hadn't come out. I couldn't figure out where he could go until I remembered there's a space behind the front panel at the base of the closet and the closet, and he could go through that and get to the engine, which is where he was heading."

That's RVing, always exciting. Today we drove from Kingman, AZ to the Longstreet Hotel Casino and RV Resort. Definitely put quote marks on resort. It's in Amargosa Springs, a bustling metropolis of 3 cows and 5 casino employees on the way to/from Death Valley. We'd signed up for the Pahrump Cowboy Shooters Association's annual Thanksgiving match, Purgatory Flats. Like a fool I assumed it was near Pahrump, and we had reservations at RV Ranch in Pahrump. It turns out that's 49 miles from the match. Okay, I called Longstreet and made reservations there and canceled at RV Ranch. Darn, I was so looking forward to seeing the sights in Pahrump, Nevada.

The drive, with the detour to avoid Hoover Dam, where both motor home and trailer are a no-no, was 244 miles. On that 244 miles the number of places I could EASILY pull the coach off the road was zero. We did see trucks parked at a couple of casinos, but I assume they knew the secret road in. Every road I saw was tiny and required a tight turn.

So I drove 244 miles in rain and high winds with 2 brief stops on the shoulder for bathroom breaks.

Hours and hours of sheer boredom punctuated by moments of stark terror

The trip involves a lot of elevation changes, including a 6% grade for over 12 miles. I used the engine brake, and the Allison 6 speed downshifted appropriately, but it still meant using the brakes a lot. We have an intermittent problem with the ABS brakes. Whenever we get more than 2 days drive from the nearest Spartan Chassis/Allison repair facility, the ABS light comes on, accompanied by a banshee. Once I figured out what was screaming, I could turn the banshee off. As far as I can tell the ABS still works in these situations. Or perhaps my vast experience doing stupid things with cars gave me enough training in threshold braking that I can do without ABS. Considering the fact that the whole rig is 65 ft. long and weighs 43,000 lb., perhaps if you are relying on and using ABS braking you probably need to rethink your driving style. Either that or some idiot has just done something worthy of using the twin Browning .50s on the top turret for chastisement.

But halfway down the 6% grade another warning sign came on. The Pressure Pro tire pressure monitor started beeping. The inside rear tire was reading 118 PSI. Since its cold pressure is 85 PSI, this meant it was getting really hot. I assumed it was all the braking and tried to baby the brakes. This is kind of hard on a 6% slope with a stop light at the bottom. That tire got up to a high of 120 PSI. All of the tires had elevated pressures. Then we had a long climb, and the brakes weren't worked, so the tire pressures started going down. The beeper went off at 100 PSI. Eventually it went down to normal. That's another first.

The lady at Longstreet Casino assigned us a site that was more appropriate for a hog wallow. I called and got reassigned to a relatively level, dry spot (gravel, with some dirt spots) with a good view of mountains and the sunset.

The black tank didn't leak. Of course The Redhead had filled and drained both tanks. Never empty the black tank without filling it first, then rinsing the hoses with a full grey tank. She often flushes the black tank with a grey hose. This, being a high end RV, has a connection for the grey hose and a built in flushing system. This keeps us from having to put a big bag of crushed ice into the tank and going for a drive and/or putting in a sprayer through the toilet bowl.

Problems with the plumbing, so far (20,200 miles), have been minimal.

November 25, 2008

Tuesday

Drove the rig to Kingman for the night, Kingman KOA. Narrow pull-through with some trees. The water faucet leaks. Okay for the night.

Kingman KOA

Kingman KOA on an overcast day

Our black water tank is leaking to the pipe, which causes it to drip when we're moving, making a sewer smell, awfully strong for the amount that comes out the cap. When I pull the cap a lot of green liquid comes out (the green comes from some stuff The Redhead puts into the tank.) I'm assuming it's the drain valve that's leaking. Will work on it when at a stable location. Attempts will be made to travel only with a black tank that is completely empty at the start of the trip until then.

November 24, 2008

Monday

Cleaned up the garage and put the ML in the trailer. Ready to travel tomorrow.

November 23, 2008

Sunday

The Redhead went to the casino. I worked in the garage. The XL650 was driving me crazy, turning primers sideways. Finally got out the alignment tool and realigned the machine. Worked fine after that. Even the cartridge feeder worked like a charm. Did enough .45 Colt for a few WB matches. I'll have to load more WB ammo when I get back from Vegas. Don't have enough powder, primers, and bullets for the cases on hand. With current prices I'm not sure I'll have enough. The banks I rob now don't have any money.

November 22, 2008

Saturday

We went to see Quantum of Solace in the morning, then had lunch at Olive Garden. The movie wasn't as good as Casino Royale. New director. He gave Bond the Walther PPK back. Somehow I can't see a professional killer who has to get into a lot of gunfights carrying a PPK now. But aside from that, it was as if they shot a 3 hour movie and wanted to show it in 2 hours, so they speeded everything up. Hard to tell what was going on. PG 13 rated with about 200 dead bodies and no naked breasts, so you can take the kiddies. Kiddies aren't allowed to see semi-naked people in the US. They're born with clothes on and never see anyone semi-naked while growing up, unlike Europe and Australia, where people are born naked, and women are topless on children's shows and completely naked in commercials, and that's the Euro Disney channel. Of course Daniel Craig was topless a lot. The Redhead didn't care about the lack of plot or hard to understand cinematography. She said she just wanted to see a lot of Craig.

November 21, 2008

Friday

Took The Redhead to breakfast and then grocery shopping at Fry's in Anthem. Reminded me of a casino. Everything was designed to get us to buy. Great lighting, especially on the polished fruits and vegetables. Very neat. Good looking meats. Lots of workers keeping things straight. If it'd had the noise of slot machines paying off, I'd figured they'd merged with Harrah's.

More reloading.

November 20, 2008

Thursday

Obituary

Colonel John W. Ripley USMC (Ret.) at his home in Annapolis. He was 69.
Colonel Ripley, a native of Radford, Virginia, graduated from the Naval Academy in 1962. He had two combat tours in Vietnam, first as a rifle company commander near the Demilitarized Zone and later as an advisor to the 3d Battalion, South Vietnamese Marine Corps. Between those assignments, he served as an exchange officer with the Royal Marines (UK), commanding a British rifle company during combat operations in Malaya.
During the NVA “Easter Offensive” of 1972, Ripley and the 600 VN Marines of the 3d
Battalion VNMC were the only force blocking a rapid North Vietnamese advance southward, with 20,000 troops, heavy field artillery, and 200 Soviet-built T-54 tanks. During the battle, Ripley personally rigged charges to destroy the strategic bridge at Dong Ha, spending three hours completely exposed to direct fire. His action stalled the NVA invasion and gave the South Vietnamese defenders much-needed time to regroup. For this heroic action, he was awarded the Navy Cross.

You may never have heard of him, even though the History Channel did a special on his actions at the bridge at Dong Ha based on the book, The Bridge at Dong Ha. But let there be no doubt. This was a man among men.

The Expedition:

Since I knew Dillon didn't have primers, I went to Sportsman's Warehouse first. You have to ask at the gun counter to get primers in thousands now. Jeez. It's only lately that I started even looking at primers in thousands instead of sleeves of 5,000. Got 2000 Federal Large Pistol primers. No Tax Sale in progress. Helped a little with the pain.

Then drove to Dillon. The first face I saw behind the counter was Cactus Cris! He retired as a school teacher in August and came to work at Dillon at Mogollian Monk's (Gary Kieft) request. Gary is the retail manager. Cris gave me a new small primer mechanism when I showed him the old one.

That was the good news. No WW231. No once fired .45 ACP. No .45 ACP Top Brass. Only 1500 200 gr lrnfp. The guy that rebuilds the case feeders is backed up. No second choice .45 ACP powder, HP38 or Bullseye. Bought a can of Clays just in case I couldn't find 231 or HP38 elsewhere. I can use it in .45 Colt.

Bought 1000 Starline .45 ACP at an appropriate cost for a similar amount of platinum. Bought 2,000 Laser Cast .45 bullets, 1500 200 gr. lrnfp, 500 200 gr. LSWC. I'd planed to use the 200 gr lrnfp in both .45 ACP and .45 Colt. The latest version of the Wild Bunch rules dropped minimum requirements of both to 180 gr., but all of the guns work with 200 gr., and I know how much WW231 or HP 38 is needed to make the power factor with .45 ACP. For .45 Colt I can use Clays or Trail Boss and make it with room to spare.

I'm sure 180 gr. .452 bullets will become readily available as demand warrants. 185 gr. LSWC were my bullets of choice for IPSC back when the earth was flat and dinosaurs ruled. 155 LSWC came later, working well with the compensators of the day, but not competitive with .38 Poopers and 125 gr. bullets at 1,000,000 ft./sec. Or was it 25 gr. I lost interest in IPSC about then. I could have bought a new IPSC gun or a new Mercedes. Chose the latter.

Went BACK to Sportsman's Warehouse and bought the last 2 lb. of HP38. Bought bread on the way home. This impressed The Redhead to no end. I've tried flowers, candy, perfume. Who knew bread was the key?

Loaded up 500 of the .45 ACP cases with 500 of the bullets and primers and 2500 gr. of powder. More tomorrow.

November 19. 2008

Wednesday

Worked in the garage while The Redhead went to play poker. Finally got the XL650 properly aligned to load .45 ACP. Problems with the case feeder, still in desperate need of a new motor and general overhaul. Got it working after a fashion. The PF100 works very well with Remington #2-1/2 large pistol primers. Once everything was adjusted everything ran like a train. Loaded 500 rounds and ran out of WW231 powder. Tomorrow a run to Dillon is in order. They have bullets and powder, but no primers. Let's hope Sportsman's has some.

November 18, 2008

Tuesday

Tombstone Territories RV Resort

Tombstone Territories RV Park. Yes, I know, we're at Pioneer RV Park in Phoenix, but I just pulled the photo out of the camera.

Spent much of the morning with our financial guru. She was cheerfully telling us that we're doing much better than the market in general and have a lot of our assets in cash so they can take advantage of bargains. It's hard for me to get too excited. We're still down 29%.

My phone stopped dialing 1, so I went to a Verizon store and got a new one. This time the free phone cost almost $200. Went to Sportsman's Warehouse--with some difficulty since the exit to get there is closed by construction and one of the detour roads has never been opened. Was looking for bullets. Found a row of empty shelves. Forgot to get large pistol primers. Got some tumbling media and bought them out of .457 round balls. The price of lead has gone down, but the price of lead balls and bullets hasn't.

Worked on converting the XL650 to .45 ACP. More difficult than it should be, as it always is. Everything was out of adjustment, of course, and enough items were missing to keep me looking and adjusting when I should have gotten to loading. Example: I have 3 powder measures. 2 have the big powder slides. One has the small one, appropriate for loading 12 gr. APP loads. Another small slide is somewhere, to be found as soon as I adjusted the small one to throw 5.0 gr. of WW231.

November 17, 2008

Monday

"If you don't want to be eaten, don't look like food." Walt Rausch

Drove to Pioneer RV Park north of Phoenix. For those of you new to the blog, Pioneer is one exit north of Ben Avery Shooting Center, home of Winter Range, and about 9 miles from Cowtown. Cowtown, home of the Cowtown Cowboy Shooters Association, is at a box canyon at the end of a progressively deteriorating road. The targets stay up all week, and club members can shoot any time that nothing's going on.

Several world and national champions practice there, usually offering tips to guys like me, and, if nothing else, demonstrating good shooting techniques and good practicing techniques. It was here I learned the 2 shot stage. Instead of 10 pistol, 10 rifle, and 4 shotgun, shoot 2 from each pistol, 2 from the rifle, and 2-4 shotguns. Repeat.

Pioneer is a big park, mostly populated by winter Arizonans, the polite word for snowbirds. There are a lot of Park models and RV's that haven't moved in years, some with additions built on them. The average age of the residents of these is somewhere between old and Methuselah. One, a compulsive talker, caught us yesterday and kept us for fifteen minutes. We know her entire history now, whether we want to or not.

We're in a pull through for a week. When we come back after the convention we'll back the monster into a 80 ft. back-in. Last time we got a retired truck driver to help ground guide me. We'll stay until after Winter Range, with occasional trips to AZ annual events, such as Gunfight at the Tombstone Livery in February.

The pull-throughs are rented by the week only, with a limit of 2 weeks. Only the back ins are rented by the month. All of the pull-throughs are reserved far ahead of Winter Range, but last year there were enough cancellations that spaces went begging. They don't plan for any cancellations, though, and were rejecting reservations as late as a week before when several had cancelled.

Balloons take off from the nearby Pioneer Living History Museum next door on pretty weekends. Virtually every weekend is pretty in Phoenix in the winter.

November 16, 2008

Sunday

The Lone Ranger and Tonto went camping in the desert. After they got their tent all set up, both men fell sound asleep.

Some hours later, Tonto wakes the Lone Ranger and says, 'Kemo Sabe, look towards sky, what you see?'

'The Lone Ranger replies, 'I see millions of stars.'

'What that tell you?' asked Tonto.

The Lone Ranger ponders for a minute then says, 'Astronomically speaking, it tells me there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, it tells me that Saturn is in Leo.

Time wise, it appears to be approximately a quarter past three in the morning.

Theologically, the Lord is all-powerful and we are small and insignificant.

Meteorologically, it seems we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What's it tell you, Tonto?'

'You dumber than buffalo chip. It means someone stole the tent.'

Back to Tombstone

Went through all of the rubber tomahawk stores looking for the bank bags with the names of Tombstone banks or Wells Fargo on them. In February they were everywhere. No more.

Found a Ruger Old Army in a case with other "antique" percussion pistols. 7.5" model, used, stainless, $595. I guess the word's out. Of course that store did have a November Cowboy Chronicle prominently displayed.

One place had a lot of worn out batwing chaps for $95. HEAVY. Didn't buy any. Batwing chaps are 20th century.

Had lunch at Nellie Cashman's. The waiter said they had a private catering job yesterday. Cost him a day at work. Lunch was pretty good. Verdict: good breakfast place if open. Good lunch place but pretty limited menu. Not recommended for dinner. Took a group there in February. Learned my lesson.

Found the Depot, which I do recommend for dinner. Next time. It's over on 10th St.

Did the mine tour.

In the mine

He's either pointing at a rock monster that's about to eat him or, to get technical, a thingie involved in mining.

Spangenberger's gun shop became Lefty's

Spangenberger's Gun shop is where the Clantons bought guns for the OK Corral fight. Then Lieutenant Patton bought his pair of engraved, ivory handled SAAs there. The current owner decided to rename it Lefty's Place. There were few guns in there, mostly tourist junk. Let's hope the next owner turns it back into the historic Spangenberger's and specializes in SASS guns.

By the way, there is one of Sheriff Horton's incredibly detailed Conestoga Wagon gun carts for sale, reduced to $3500. As Sundown Tex once said about Sheriff Horton's marvelous creations, "I wanted to get one, but I bought a new pickup truck instead."

Anyway, if you want one, he has one. Probably negotiable. Tell Lefty to send me a commission, if you buy. I'll split it with you.

One of three Tombstone stage coaches

There are 3, count 'em 3 stage coaches selling rides in Tombstone, This semi-goofy looking one is a mud coach. The other two are Concords. There's also a trolley that gives tours. Since we first went there on September 12, 2001, there have been a lot of improvements at Tombstone. They were threatened with the loss of National Historical Site status, and they did good things. They've blocked off Allen street, put up hitching posts and put dirt on the road. Some of the sidewalks are board. A few shops have come and gone. The Victorian clothing store that was at the Oriental Saloon is now Madame Mustache's at a different location. Lots of newer, better stuff. The Oriental is now about three stores, connected.

It pays to shop. The Redhead said she saw the same item at two stores, $22 at one, $13 at the other.

The Mine Tour is fairly new. There's also a Haunted Tombstone tour in a building, with mechanical ghosts, etc. We didn't go there.

On the way back went to Fairbank Community, a BLM preservation of the ruins of a town started in 1880 that died with the railroad.

Filled out the application for Winter Range. Wrote a check for $300 including side matches, a guest badge for The Redhead, and a couple of Saturday night dinners. I've been reasonable about accepting high entry fees, but I'm running out of patience. $20 per side match (Wild Bunch--EOT Rules), Warm up, Plainsman. Too much. Not to save $20 but to save my bod I chose 2 out of the 3, Wild Bunch and Warm Up. They're all on Wednesday, and all 4 stages. 8 is enough. I'm a big supporter of Plainsman, but it is a lot of work, and 8 stages of the care and feeding of percussion pistols is too much for me in a big, high stress match.

Additionally the Guest badge is THE biggest rip off going at SASS matches. $25 so your wife can attend a few functions with you? After you've paid $195 for basic entry plus whatever meals she needs? There is no cost involved to the committee. It's just extortion of the contestants.

Anyway, I believe it's time that matches adopt the Comin' At'Cha All Inclusive philosophy. I can understand charging extra for the shotgun side matches when the parent range charges them for the clays. But charging for each side match is just getting greedy. T-Bone, you've convinced me. Match directors disagreeing with me please argue with T-Bone. Match directors agreeing with me get free Margaritas at the bus.

Speaking of Margaritas, we gave away 3 GALLONS at Comin' At'Cha. We've gotta start buying cheaper tequila.

November 15, 2008

Saturday

Planned on breakfast at Nellie Cashman's, which was open last night. But it was closed this morning, not permanently, but as if someone didn't show up for work. Thus we ate breakfast at the Longhorn Cafe. Decent, not exciting. The Redhead liked the biscuits and gravy.

Drove to Cochise, AZ to interview Wes Flowers (West Fargo) for an article in the Chronicle. Cochise is definitely out in the country.

West Fargo at work in his workshop

West Fargo in his workshop working on my Ruger Old Army. West Does 12-15 Ruger short stroke action jobs a month.

Wes Flowers grew up in Bisby, Arizona in the 50s. In 1956 he visited Tombstone and decided he wanted to grow up to live in Tombstone and be a gunfighter. He got into fast draw and competed in his first fast draw event in Tombstone in '62, doing "okay," and finished seventh in Prescott on July 4th. He went on to be world champion fast draw several times in the '70s. He and his father began working on Rugers for fast draw in the '60s and '70s because they couldn't find anyone local to work on their guns.

He is famous for his short stroke action jobs. His guns have dominated competition at EOT and WR for some time. You don't have to shoot his short stroked guns, but a lot of very fast shooters do. The Dooley Gang's hotshots all seem to shoot Ruger Bisleys with Wes Flowers short stroke action jobs and grip frame thinning and shrinking by Shotgunner.

I've known Wes for some time. I watched his leg deteriorate over time. He was injured in a '70 car wreck which crushed one leg and broke the other. The crushed one had the real damage, though, and a major artery had to be replaced by an artificial one. 30+ years later this went sour, resulting in infection that eventually resulted in the amputation of his leg, in stages, until it was amputated above the knee. He is wheelchair bound but working out with his new titanium leg now. His recovery was slowed by a week by a fall at Comin' At'Cha

I was always impressed with his cheerfulness in the face of adversity. He was always laughing and smiling in public, apparently unfazed by his pain. Of course, this was a "public face", which he admitted. He hid his pain publicly and felt it privately. I wasn't the only one impressed. This year at EOT he was given the True Grit Award for "endeavoring to persevere." Anyone winning this must be respected and admired. It takes courage to ignore pain.

Cochise's Stronghold

There are several interesting attractions in southern Arizona. We finally got to one we're always passing by, Cochise's Stronghold. Located in the base of the mountains in deep foliage, it has been made into a campsite (for tent campers and trailers smaller than 22 ft.) and hiking and horseback trails. Pleasant drive there and back. The last is an unpaved road. The lady at the information center in Wilcox said she had a lot of complaints from people for not warning them about the road, but it's nothing a normal car couldn't go through. I'd avoid it in a Corvette, Camaro, Mustang or similar low slung cars. I didn't have to raise the suspension on the ML.

November 14, 2008

Friday

Las Cruces Koa

The Las Cruces KOA, with a panoramic view of Las Cruces below. Nice park, gravel but combed daily, terraced up a hill. Each spot has concrete runners perfectly located for 5th wheels, not manly big rigs.

No problems on the drive. Drove to Tombstone Territories RV Park. This new, big, all-pull-through park is 8 miles out on highway 82 off of highway 80 outside of Tombstone. There are several closer RV Parks for smaller rigs. The Tombstone Livery RV Park, where the shooting range is for Gunfight at the Tombstone Livery and Bordertown will fit our rig but has only 30 amp power. Then there's a former KOA on 80 that might fit the big rig. The park in town, Wells Fargo, definitely doesn't. There's another we haven't explored yet. We like Tombstone Territories except for one thing. The DAILY rate is PLUS ELECTRICITY. Our bill was $98 for 3 nights PLUS whatever electricity is charged at exit. The park is far from full. Wonder why?

Our parking place, though huge, isn't level on what appears to be level ground. It climbs uphill in excess of what the HWH Leveling system can handle without additional blocks. It's only 3 days, so we just walk up and down hill half a bubble. I noted the 5th wheel next door has big blocks under the rear jacks and none under the front.

Had dinner at the Longhorn in Tombstone. Nothing to write home about. Food in Tombstone is not the draw.

FOUND IN THE CAMERA

Pull through with tree in the middle.

Hello, office? About this pull-through site you assigned to us… This was the site next to us when we stayed in Austin. While I applaud their conservation of trees...

November 13, 2008

Thursday

Adventures in Watch Repair

Having spent almost the cost of a nice Ruger Vaquero getting the Rolex GMT Master serviced in Houston (lots of parts), naturally, I dropped it onto the wood floor of the bus. Then the second hand stopped when it hit the minute hand. We're in Las Cruces. One place advertised online that they had Rolex repair. I spent some time searching for them only to find that their repairman had died. The lady working there reminded me of a lot of ladies working at jewelry stores. I suppose they take the same drugs. I don't want any. Eventually she gave me the card of the man they sent repairs to. He is a certified Rolex repairman, Charles Sargent. He works out of his house. It, too, isn't in an area of the nav database that provides directions, and the database calls Valle Vista street Valle,so I had problems finding it. 3 chihuahuas met me at the door. About 30 minutes later the watch was fixed while I watched. He asked me if $35 didn't sound too high. No, I paid it without negotiations.

He did tell me my GMT Master is old. "It has the 1504 action." I'll add that to my trivia database.

Cleaned the windshield, mirrors, side glass, and clear bra on the front of the bus with generic glass cleaner. It took about twice as much as Invisible Glass, both in time and liquid used. More streaking. But it only cost $1.99. Didn't have any Liquid Glass and didn't want to go hunting for it.

Put the ML into the trailer.

November 12, 2008

Wednesday

First, catching up, some pictures:

In Fredericksburg, we went to some museums:

Veriens Kirch Museum

Veriens Kirche Museum--The German settlers built the original Veriens Kirche in the middle of main street. Initially it was to be used by both of the dominant churches, Lutheran and Catholic, and for cit meetings and for defense from Indians. The two congregations built churches pretty quickly, impressive ones. In 1895 the Veriens Kirsche was demolished, and the street straightened out. The streets of Fredericksburg are WIDE. Love it! This is a replica in the park. It's not much of a museum, but if you buy a ticket to it, $5, you also get the Pioneer Museum, several old buildings moved to upper Main Street. In the Pioneer Museum, we found:

Englebert Krauskopft's scout coat

Englebert Krauskopf was a Fredericksburg gunsmith. He built beautiful Pennsylvania rifles with barrels imported from Pennsylvania, and lock and stock built by him. During the Civil War he and a partner made percussion caps for the local Confederate forces. (Fredericksburg was put under martial law, and 35 or so Northern sympathizers were murdered by local Confederate home guards). He also obtained a patent for an improvement to the Winchester '66, but no credit for same or royalties. This is his scout coat. The details of the embroidery are pretty spectacular. For those of you who would like to see it, click Here for a much bigger picture. Hmm, I wonder how much River Crossing would charge to duplicate this. I figure I couldn't afford the estimate.

And a photo of Fort Stockton RV Park:

Fort Stockton RV Park

And, as promised, we discovered what T-Bone Dooley is going to do after closing the pawn shop:

Dooley's 5, 10, and 25¢ Store

T-Bone is moving to Fredericksburg and running the family store. The Dooley Gang will be shooting at Tin Star Ranch come 2009. That'll make Comin' At'Cha easier for me to get to.

Now, for something completely different, back to today

We drove to the Inn of the Mountain Gods Casino, a beautiful drive to get to a beautiful resort. The casino, however, stunk of cigarette smoke and had nothing better than 7-5 Video Poker. If you play Video Poker you should know that this means the odds were poor. She didn't have time to play poker, so we played video poker. She lost. I turned $120 into $83.50. Then she wanted to play penny slots. That cost another $20. Not too bad, but not winning the big $1.3 million progressive.

Nice drive back.

Called West Fargo to arrange seeing him when we're in Tombstone. The plan is to interview him, photograph him in his workshop, and get the ROAs I left with him. Well, probably 2 out of 3. He's been in and out of the VA hospital and has to go back tomorrow. The guns aren't done. Fortunately I have 4. That and the next event I'm shooting has Wild Bunch as a main match category and no Frontiersman, so I'll be shooting Wild Bunch, smokeless.

November 11, 2008

Tuesday

HAPPY VETERANS DAY

Remember, The United States of America is the home of the free because it's the home of the brave.

Saluting the Flag
Public Law No. 110-181 changes Section 9 of title 4, United States Code, by striking "all persons present" and all that follows through the end of the section and inserting the following: "all persons present in uniform should render the military salute. Members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute. All other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, or if applicable, remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Citizens of other countries present should stand at attention. All such conduct toward the flag in a moving column should be rendered at the moment the flag passes."

A lot of SASS members are vets. The salute is a privilege reserved for those who serve their country. Every SASS event starts with a flag raising or Pledge of Allegiance. Some vets are aware of this law and are saluting. Others either aren’t, or don’t feel comfortable saluting in civvies. It’s okay. You can salute now. You’ve earned it.

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Three nights, 3 RV Parks

Tonight I stepped out the door to walk George S. Patton, Jr., and as I hit the ground I realized I had no idea where I was. Such is life for a traveling gypsy. Fortunately, after wandering the park with George, I could find the bus because it, with the trailer behind it, is big.

On to New Mexico

Made it to Las Cruces KOA, an RV Park we were impressed with last year. No problems traveling, but cross and headwinds were high, pushing fuel mileage into the mid-5s. Diesel was "only" $2.55.9/gal. at the Flying J at mile marker 0, just inside the Texas border. For some reason gasoline is VERY high in this area, almost as high as diesel. Oh, I forgot. Gasoline is SUPPOSED to be higher than diesel. But, in this case, compared to the rest of the state, gasoline was high. Diesel was just less high.

November 10, 2008

Monday

Drove to Fort Stockton. Last year's Fort Stockton KOA is now the Fort Stockton RV Park. Good place to stay. Easy to get in and out, spacious. Has a little bitty cafe, the Roadrunner Cafe We had dinner there. Not bad. Cheap.

November 9, 2008

Sunday

Went to the Veriens Kirche Museum and the Pioneer Museum. Photos later, especially of Englebert Krauskopf's scout coat. I'll have to show that picture to Mad Mountain Mike, though I'll bet reproducing it would cost a lot. It should be noted that we're old hands at Fredericksburg and have been to all of the museums. Starting with the Museum of the Pacific War, all of them are worth the visit when you're here.

Photos to be posted later. I found out what T-Bone Dooley is doing after he closes the pawn shop. Stay tuned.

November 8, 2008

Saturday

Went to the Bell Mountain Winery, probably the best winery in Texas. On Saturday Mrs. Oberhelmann gives wine tastings and tours that are far above the quality of wine tastings at most of the wineries. Their wines are quite good, too. We came back with a case, of course.

November 7, 2008

Friday

Went to San Antonio to go to the Buckhorn Saloon and Museum and to have Mexican food on the River Walk. I also had to go to The Alamo so I could remember it.

Display at the Buckhorn museum

Much of the Buckhorn Museum was like this wall, a collection of knickknacks, signs, clothing items, and "stuff" with no explanation or provenance. There were also several dioramas of Texas history, some with quite unauthentic clothing and accoutrements, some with apocryphal incidents, fables, and nonsense. And then there were several collections of stuffed animals. Apparently after several funerals the family of a "great" hunter wondered what the heck they were going to do with all of those stuffed animals, especially that two-headed calf. So they donated it to the Buckhorn Museum. One display was all about a hunter who had taken the African Big 5 using a bow and arrow, not a compound bow, a recurve bow of 102 lb. pull. He did it without rifle backup. This indicated 3 crazy people got together, the hunter, the tracker, and the photographer. There were films, including one of an elephant who didn't like being stalked and charged them.

Rough Rider ht

Rough Rider hat

The Texas Ranger Museum:

Chaparellos with buckles down the sides.

"Mexican Chapajelos belonging to Mexican General Miguel H. Monraz of Guadalajara. General Monraz was a prominent figure in the Mexican Revolution"

Buckles on the chaps

Shotgun chaps using buckles.

John Hughes parade hat

Hat worn by Captain John R. Hughes in many official parades. John Hughes was a famous Texas Ranger Captain who lived into his nineties and was revered by Texans. The hat looks 20s-30s. Pictures of him as a Ranger captain don't show him wearing this style hat.

Hotel sign

This sign was in a display concerning the Texas Rangers' destruction of the Maceio gambling empire in Galveston in the 50s. The photo below was old west era. Not sure why a Las Vegas sign was there.

As I expected, the Texas Ranger Museum wasn't up to the quality of the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco. The guns were mostly guns that the Hall of Fame didn't want. There was a Paterson pistol. There were a couple of Walkers, unmarked, that looked brand new, which tells me they say "Uberti" on them somewhere.

They did have a bar brought in from somewhere that looked great, and a sheriff's office and jail. They had a Bonnie and Clyde car with decal bullet holes. Not too impressive.

But it was a fun trip. Went to the River Walk and had good Mexican food.

November 6, 2008

Thursday

What a fun day! While working on what we're going to do, where, and when, we decided that the annual state inspection for the bus needed to get done here, as our next stop will be at Fort Stockton, and the next one in Las Cruces, NM. So I got online and discovered that there's one and only one state inspection store in Fredericksburg, or at least according to a quick Internet check. Leroy's State Inspections. I called to see if he could do a 40 ft. bus. He said yes, at 1 PM. He only does big RVs at 0800 and 1300 because otherwise the parking lot is full. "Okay, I'll be there at 1 PM today."

Did a recon run in the ML to (a) find the place and (b) check out ways to park it. Then I put wheel chocks on the trailer, jacked it up, and disconnected it from the bus. Then we arranged the interior for movement, caught and put the cat into his travel palace, and pulled in the slides. Then we disconnected water, sewer, and power, and drove over to Leroy's State Inspections. I put it in the parking lot, which was half full, and The Redhead went in to tell Leroy we were here for our appointment. He was rude and angry and told her I didn't make an appointment, just asked if he could do it. I don't know what part of "Okay, I'll be there at 1 PM today" he didn't understand. He rudely told her we would have to wait because he had other business. No problem, I thought. After half an hour or so and three cars came in off the street and got inspected, I went in and sat down in the one bay shop. He asked me if I was the driver of the motor home. I told him I was. I was deliberately pleasant and friendly, as I would have been with an angry customer. He continued to work on the car he was doing. After ten minutes he asked me how much its GVW was. I told him 34,000 lb.

Ten minutes later he told me vehicles over 26,000 lb. had to be inspected commercial. I asked if this was a new law. He said, no, it had always been that way. I reminded him that this isn't a commercial vehicle. It's a private coach and exempt. This made him angry. I reminded him that I had gotten it inspected at regular inspection stations before. He said nothing. A few minutes passed, and The Redhead came in and told me I needed to move the bus because a truck needed to get onto the scale next door. Leroy yelled at me that I had to move the bus. I asked if he was going to inspect the bus or not. He said he would call his man at something or other. I moved the bus, allowing the truck to come in but blocking the hell out of Leroy's shop.

I went back inside. He said nothing for ten minutes or so. Finally he told me to pull the bus in. I did. He inspected, paying a lot of attention to the new wiper blades. State inspection of a diesel bus is mostly checking the brake lights. George didn't want to let him in to put on the sticker, but, against his better judgment he did. Leroy was nice to George and Arthur. I gave him the $14.50 required, and he told me he would back me into the street, and point me south. When we tried that he was yelling incoherently, and I wasn't backing fast enough for him. He went back inside, leaving me sticking out in the street. I backed a little further and went through the parking lot to get to an intersection and turn north without ever backing the bus across the street.

Had dinner at Der Lindenbaum, always a good experience. The fact that Leroy is alive is proof that The Redhead does have more self control than people give her credit for.

Comin' At'Cha Photos

Baylor Parkway

The Baylor Parkway sign is now up near where the famous incident occurred last year.

Captain Baylor times Jack Houston

This is stage 10, Miss Anne's garden. Jack Houston, the posse marshal, is shooting. I'm timing. T-Bone wanted the posse marshal and assistant to time everyone, and, despite the fact that I shoot percussion pistols, we managed. Jack was shooting in the unofficial Pale Rider Category, where he placed third. Unfortunately it kept him from getting a buckle in Gunfighter. He shoots Gunfighter quite well with .38s and smokeless. Fully loaded .45s and A LOT of smoke is a serious handicap.

Electronic timing board

The timing system at Comin' At'Cha is superior to everywhere else, including EOT. And it should be used at EOT. The Wild Bunch wants to make the sport more spectator friendly there. This'll help. The timers are connected by RF to their timing boards. Each is on a different frequency. Normally, when the shooter fires the last shot, you hit the "Review" button. It stops "hearing" further noises. The time will be on the board, and the scorekeeper just reads it. The timer operator, AS ALWAYS, calls out the time from the timer in a loud, clear voice as soon as possible after the shooter finishes. A timer operator who does not call out the time loud enough for the shooter to hear it should be replaced immediately. Once the time on the timer and the time on the board disagreed. I used the review feature to count shots, and the time on the timer was correct. If a person is between the timer and the board, the signal can be blocked. Thus a sharp timer operator is still required. I made sure that the timer was close to the weapon and checked to make sure it was recording the rifle, even with Jack, who was probably setting off timers 3 stages away with his rifle loads.

One of Lone Rider Leather's contoured cuffs.

Jack Houston demonstrates his "contoured" cuffs. These don't chafe the wrist at top and bottom as you flex the wrist.

November 5, 2008

Wednesday

Some things to think about after the most critical election in history:

A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.

-Thomas Jefferson

If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed.

- Mark Twain

I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.

-Winston Churchill

A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.*

- George Bernard Shaw

(*And you make Peter sore, and no one wants a sore Peter.)

A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man; a debt he proposes to pay off with your money.

-G Gordon Liddy

Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.

-James Bovard, Civil Libertarian (1994)

Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries.

-Douglas Casey, Classmate of Bill Clinton at Georgetown University

Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.

-P.J. O'Rourke, Civil Libertarian

Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it; If it keeps moving, regulate it...and if it stops moving, subsidize it.

-Ronald Reagan (1986)

I don't make jokes I just watch the government and report the facts.

-Will Rogers

If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free!

-P.J. O'Rourke

In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other.

-Voltaire (1764)

Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you!

-Pericles (430 B.C.)

No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session.

-Mark Twain (1866 )

Talk is cheap ...except when Congress does it.

-Unknown

The government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other.

-Ronald Reagan

What this country needs are more unemployed politicians.

-Edward Langley, Artist (1928 - 1995)

Went to Texas Jack's. Didn't buy anything. Lots of shirts with band collars. If you see me wearing a band collar shirt, and it's not white, I won it at a match.

Did the main street, Fredericksburg thing until the feet went.

November 4, 2008

Tuesday

Before moving the bus we got back into the groove and checked the brake lights (and did part of the ICC air brake test). No lights to the trailer. Knew immediately what to check. I hadn't hooked the lights up yesterday. A helper had. Yep. The plug was halfway in. It "Feels" like it's in then, and the safety catch on top seems to be in place, but it's not. When the plug is all the way in, the safety catch locks into place. Corrected that. The lights worked then. Yes, that means we drove 200 miles without trailer brake lights or trailer brakes. I did at least 2 really hard stops.

Drove to the new Fredericksburg RV Park. Nice place. Pretty full. Lots of full timers. Went to the Lincoln Street Wine Bar for wine and (too much) cheese, then to Friedhelm's for schnitzel. VERY FILLING.

Of course, when we got back to the RV our second worst fears were realized, as we expected. Now we have to wonder whether this far-left radical will go back to his radical roots or move to what he considers to be the center. Fearful times ahead. Freedom can, as we all know, be lost in one generation. This might be that generation. A country gets the government it deserves. Everyone who voted for this radical deserves whatever he does to them. But the rest of us don't.

Very depressing night. Awoke from a nightmare and wanted to go back to the nightmare. But I'll soldier on.

November 3, 2008

Monday

Jack Houston helped us hook up the trailer, which had been parked by Omaha John's coach. It was hell working in the trailer with NO SATELLITE TV!!! Drove to the Waco KOA for the night. Tired.

November 2, 2008

Sunday

Comin' At'Cha

Team and other matches, Awards

They gave buckles to 10th in Frontiersman (11 shooters). Got a nice buckle for a mediocre finish, 7th. Blue Mesa won, beating Scrounger. !$#%! kids should be shooting Modern or duelist or Frontier Cartridge. Scrounger, of course, rubbed it in telling all who asked that he got all he knew from Frontiersman For Dummies . I've got to make that password protected and only let in old, half-blind, slow shooters, guys like me. Bad Gene Poole was third, proving he was sandbagging about the effect of the arm damage when he tried to cut his left hand off with a model airplane engine.

The awards presentation went quickly and efficiently. The only sour note was the number of shooters wearing tennis shoes and T-shirts. This infuriated The Judge. This was an insult to him. It was also an insult to the other class winners who got their pictures taken with a guy in a T-shirt. That photo won't appear in The Cowboy Chronicle. Some of the people in civvies were kids. Their photos won't appear in the Chronicle, and, of course, neither will the other winners in their category. The rules say to wear costume for all activities. That means the awards presentation.

Got the trailer ready to travel. Almost left for a real RV park. Fresh water tank down to 1 light. Grey and black at 5 lights, and the black tank was smelling. Turns out a small amount had leaked out the outlet cap. A little goes a long way.

Decided to stay the night. Saw Justice Liily Kate, and we agreed on going together for dinner.

Brims 'N' Trims, it should be noted, worked on 3 of my hats at no charge. Great people.

Agonized some over buying bullets from Master-Craft, but sanity prevailed as we'd have to carry them to Las Vegas and back to Phoenix before loading them into ammo. (I'll need to reload EVERYTHING this winter.) I'm carrying enough lead. I'll find .45 ACP bullets in Phoenix.

Went to dinner with The Judge and Justice Lily Kate, Footloose, and Fancy Free. Got several good stories. Everything was closed in Clarksville, even though we arrived on the last train. Drove to Paris for an Applebee's. It was worth the trip for the company. Food and drink were surprisingly good for Applebee's.

Verdict: The Dooley Gang lived up to their reputation. Everything about the event was first class. Everyone working there from the trash guy to T-Bone and Red did their jobs to a level above and beyond. If they don't win a "Best Match" award, then ACORN was stuffing the ballot box and counting the votes. (Oh, that was Ohio. I forgot.)

More stories from Comin' At'Cha when I have time, including pictures.

November 1, 2008

Saturday

Comin' At'Cha

Second Main Match Day

Shot the "town" section in the morning. The smoke was terrible on the first two stages, miserable on the third, not a problem on the last two. Those shooting 6-10 in the morning and 1-5 in the afternoon had a 15-30 second advantage, as evidenced by the scores. I dropped 2 places.

But I continued to shoot clean. 32 clean stages in a row, 4 matches clean. Now I have to start shooting fast again. I let the place intimidate me.

Won a Cobra Derringer in the posse drawing! They gave one to each posse. Since I already have a Bond derringer--just acquired(!), I'll need to sell this one. It's the new model with long barrel (oxymoron, long barreled derringer.) Happy Appy said he tuned one, that it's easy. For the typical derringer match the hammer pull seemed okay. Black finish, shiny, white grips.

When we finished, a young man came up and asked if he could help me with anything. At first I said no, thinking I'm not that old yet. Then I asked him to take the gun cart to the trailer.

Bought a red bib shirt from Hamilton Dry Goods I hadn't seen anywhere else. Unique. Learned the bad news they're not doing the 1873 Levi's anymore. No more of the original cloth.

Bought some of their pants made from Levi's original pattern. Bought the ugliest pants Frontier Classic make from Gunpowder Creek Trading Post.

Picked up the gun from Happy Appy as the party got started. That put us at the back of the food line. They had roving secret judges for the costume contest. Some winners were evident on sight, though. Goatneck Clem dressed as a sumo wrestler with an inflatable sumo outfit, wig, beard, eyebrows. Wouldn't know it was Goatneck. He won the Mardi Gras category. Bandida and Tijuana Rose won the soiled dove category. Despite the presence of Cowtown Scout's 1876 US Cavalry Major's full-dress uniform with braid and pointy helmet, I won as Colonel Baylor. Wore the tan belt with revolver holster (1860 Army in same), cap box, cartridge box, and engraved sword.

The judges were locally recruited and knew none of us. No presentation, just the looks of the costume.

The award was a belt buckle. Nice buckle.

Dinner was by the Outback Steak House in Texarkana. Outstanding food.

They gave away the Marlin Cowboy .45 for the SASS Scholarship shoot. Drew the wrong number. I didn't hear how much they made for the Scholarship fund.

Fireworks followed, lots and lots of professionally done fireworks.