Journal of a Gypsy Cowboy
Formerly Combined Curt's Fulltime RV Journal
and Captain Baylor's Cowboy Action Shooting Journal
December 24, 2007
The Redhead and Captain George,
Wishing you the merriest of Christmases
December 23, 2007
December 22, 2007
Worked in the shop, reloading shotshells. Worked on the SL900 trying to get it to load as reliably as the 650. I think it's not gonna happen. Went to Sportsman's Warehouse for shotgun primers. Noticed they only had 4000 Winchester small magnum pistol primers, no small pistol primers. Don't need them right now, but soon. They had 5,000 of the rare, hard to find Federal small pistol primers. Didn't buy them to resell. Getting on the road at all today was insane.
December 21, 2007
Shot at Cowtown, practice. I wasn't alone. Severa shooters showed up. Good session. The others convinced me not to go to the Prescott area match on Sunday. The map convinced me not to go to the Cottonwood match. Both are too far away. I COULD go there, but I'd be beat up for a week.
December 20, 2007
The Redhead and George met me at the airport. Much better. Slept in. Went to the nearest Sportsman's Warehouse and bought all of the Triple 7 powder they had, all priced below current wholesale. Must've been there for a while.
Unfortunately the lead shot was at current market, $49.95/25 lb. Bought several other things. Used a 10% discount coupon and got 5% for the VA card. Every little bit helps with prices like these.
December 19, 2007
Wonderful day. The doctor the VA sent me 1200 miles to see wasn't there. They had rescheduled for the 21st without bothering to tell me. Phone calls to the company that contracts with the VA to schedule these evaluations and to Don Hubbard with the Military Order of the Purple Heart brought out the reason that the appointment was in Houston. The company only does Houston and San Antonio. The VA does understand the term "snowbird" and has had such cases before. They'll have to handle this one. I'm not flying back.
The ophthalmologist noted scarring behind the lens implants, especially in the left eye. The modern treatment is a IAG laser, a quick, simple treatment that could be done in the doctor's office--if he owned one. He uses the one at Memorial Herman Memorial City, on Friday afternoons. First he suggested having the VA do it. I suggested we find someone else who can do it in Phoenix.
When I got to the airport the flight was already listed as being delayed an hour. It turned out to be 2 hours late. When it landed in Phoenix, my luggage didn't. It's currently in Parts Unknown. I believe Southwest contracted luggage management with the same company that schedules VA Evaluation physicals in Houston and San Antonio.
Perfect capper for a perfect day.
December 18, 2007
The morning appointment was with the doctor who did the prostatecomy. Pretty cursory follow up. His nurse is appropriate for a urologist. She's exceptionally good looking and wears scrubs, the bottoms of which fit pretty tightly. She walks well. If, when following her to the exam room, you don't get a stir, then you should talk to the doctor about E. D.
If you have a prostatectomy, part of your recovery involves taking Cialis every 48 hours whether you're having sex or not. In fact, you have to take it during the first 6 weeks when you're forbidden sex. That's 15 a month by my math. Every time I'm there I try to scam as many samples as possible, because the insurance company only pays for 6 a month. The other 9 are on the patient. As the nurse put it, "I've never heard of an insurance company paying for it." When I mentioned that the VA, when told this, magnanimously allows me 4 Levitra a month. Her response was priceless: "There must be a lesbian on the board."
The afternoon appointment was at the VA hospital. Total waste of time.
December 17, 2007
Flew to Houston. Got to Hertz, and when I got to my car, it was a black Mustang with a wing. I hadn't reserved that. I just started with the cheapest car and kept going up until the website said SIRIUS satellite radio was included. "This is good," I said to myself as I got in.
Before I drove out I familiarized myself with the car. Found the satellite radio. Got only the 800 number for activating same. The damn car had 12,000+ miles, and THEY NEVER HAD ACTIVATED THE SATELLITE RADIO!!!
Got help. First they told me the only other car with SIRIUS was a Jeep Wrangler. I probably should have taken it, but that was a bit of a change from a Mustang. Then they came up with a Chrysler Sebring. Nice car if it didn't hurt my back and leg to drive it. Not too underpowered. Power WDLM, etc. Remote locking. Directional stability leaves a lot to be desired at highway speeds. I'd better not sneeze. It's front wheel drive, which explains it. A Mustang it isn't. It does have the Hertz Neverlost navigation system, a plus.
Then came the great room hunt. Had reservations at the Red Roof Inn near Hobby Airport. First problem was WiFi wasn't included. A 1 day card was $10, or $21 for seven day s. I took the latter.
Second problem was the halls smelled like a drunk tank, or, at best, a place never cleaned of 20 years of cigarette smoke. The No Smoking room was okay.
Third problem was the electronic key only worked once. Had to go back and get another one. The desk clerk airhead blamed it on my cell phone.
Fourth problem was the WiFi card didn't work. Tried to activate it twice. It had 5 digits in the last batch of numbers. The instructions online showed 6. Went back to the desk. The airhead woman had been replaced by a supercilious, prissy male who blamed it on my stupidity. I asked for another card anyway. He refused after showing me another card with 5 digits. I told him that if he saw me again in the next half hour I'd be wanting my money back. It only took 15 minutes to try again, following prissy man's instructions, repack, and go back to the front desk to check out.
Next try was a Hampton Inn. A LARGE woman was talking on the phone at the front desk and ignored me. Another LARGE woman came up when the other phone rang, but hadn't come to wait on me in the 15 minutes I was standing there. When I started out the front door, then she acknowledged me.
Finally got a room at the Quality Inn, WiFi and breakfast included, no disgusting smells, and a nice person at the front desk.
December 16, 2007
We checked out another RV park in Surprise. Mostly Park Models, but the pull-throughs for big rigs were nice, and they weren't full up. We didn't like the place, but we could spend a week or so there if we don't find a better place. It's still in range of Cowtown.
Then I reloaded a while. Packed for the trip to Houston tomorrow. Not looking forward to it.
December 15, 2007
Shot the monthly match at Cowtown. Joined the Cowtown Cowboy Shooters Association (so I can practice at Cowtown). They have a Snowbirds membership through April--for $40! This, I believe, is more than any of the Texas clubs for a year. I presume there's a reason, or maybe Arizona is just an expensive place to shoot. Good match. Good stages. 4 posses, about 80 people I think. Good for a local club these days. Had the usual first stage disaster, 67 seconds total. The other five were in the 30s. Still nothing in the 20s, but better than I've been doing. Practice, practice, practice.
Tried Goex Cowboy in the ROAs with lubed wads from Thunder Ridge. Worked very well. Very consistent. Clean. Easy to clean up. But expensive. The wads are $7.50/100. Cheaper than Wonder Wads. Seem to be as good. The reason to use the Cowboy, which requires these wads or some other lube, vs. APP, Triple 7, or Pinnacle is less smoke. A plus is more boom. A negative is the sulfur smell. The substitutes need no wads at all.
A lot of shooters were concerned about the newly dictated SASS power factor--60. IPSC was 175 when I left, to put things in perspective. 60 is a 100 gr. bullet at 600 ft./sec. Doesn't apply to black powder categories, so maybe I'm looking at it from the outside. But then we had our smoke standard imposed. Anyway Evil Roy and Holy Terror shoot 125 gr. bullets at 600 ft./sec. 75 power factor. And how many world championships do they have between them?
Cleaned guns, loaded 800 rounds of .38 and went to a margaritas/karaoke party at the clubhouse.
December 14, 2007
Went to Cowtown and practiced. The rifle targets are in the shade and painted black. Did fine in single shot drills and double taps, hitting first hit in .87-1.10 from Cowboy Port Arms, 1.3-1.5 from the table. Fine on double taps and 1 on each of 2. Fell apart trying to alternate targets for 10 shots. The smoke didn't leave. Worked on memory. Didn't work that well. Pistol did better than expected, single shot draws from left hand 1 second or so, 1.3-1.6 from right hand holster to left. Took a while to get to those numbers. Nevada sweeps went well, high 3s, low 4s from left-hand holster, mid 4s from right-hand holster. Again, worked down to those numbers. Couldn't get decent shotgun numbers, though, 4 in 7.something, occasionally 6. something, 8.something too often. Couldn't put it all together into a decent stage time, though.
Cleaned guns and got ready for the match at Cowtown tomorrow.
December 13, 2007
As Pogo used to say,
But then most of the readers of this don't know who Pogo is.
Despite the above, nothing bad happened today. Worked in the garage. Got things ready for shooting. Loaded a thousand rounds of .38s. The Redhead went to Arizona II to play poker. Broke even.
December 12, 2007
This morning I wanted to connect the new Pressure Pro sensor to the right rear wheel of the trailer. You'll remember that the original one failed, and the dealer required me to send it back to him, then he tested it to make sure it was really broken, and sent it to Pressure Pro for replacement. While it was gone that tire blew and did $700+ damage.
Despairing of ever getting a replacement, I ordered another one from another dealer. It arrived in the mail we got at Las Vegas. So did the other one.
I spent hours reading the online instructions for replacing a sensor, or I should say, looking for instructions for replacing a sensor. There were instructions for everything else. So this morning I called their 800 number. The nice lady talked me through the procedure. It didn't work She said she'd have to make a call, and someone would call me back within 30 minutes.
When I got off the phone I got the bright idea to check the other sensor. It worked. About an hour later, when we'd given up and went on with getting the bus ready to move, Doug called from Pressure Pro and gave me several useful tips, including how to test the possibly defective sensor, and, if it's defective, to call him for an address to send it to. 800-959-3505.
I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and just say the original dealer is a @$%!%!
Having those sensors does take a lot of the worry about RVing. I'm very glad we're Full Timing in the era of big, high quality Motor Homes, Escapees Mail Forwarding Services, Satellite TV and Internet, online banking and bill paying, and cell phones.
He also told me how to reset the baseline pressure. The Pressure Pro sensors were set in the summer with a baseline of 115 lb. for the front tires. Now in the cold they get down to 108 or so at night and set off the noisy alarm. I've been unable to pump up the tires with my compressors and with one at a Flying J. By the time I got to the Flying J, they had heated to 125+, and the compressor there only added a pound or so.
To reset the baseline take the sensor off for over 30 seconds and remount. It'll accept that pressure as baseline. We'll see in the morning.
We drove first to the Lake Pleasant County Park, near Cowtown, north of Phoenix, where the RV Park had been recommended to us. It was several twisty miles off the main road. No one was at the main gate, and the visitors center was closed. The park was virtually deserted except the hitchhiker with the bloody chain saw and a pack of wild velociraptors.
I called Pleasant Harbor RV Resort, where we had stayed before, and one of their 4, count 'em 4 pull-throughs was available until Jan 1. We took it and moved in. Everything went fine until we tried to put out the 4th slideout, the kitchen. It wouldn't move. Since the cats immediately go in the opening between the slideout and the next cabinet, we can't let them out of their travel crate (Durance Vile according to them) until the slides are out. We looked at the extensive instructions on troubleshooting the slideouts, or we would have if they existed. After trying to look like I knew what I was doing while crawling in the basement looking for something out of whack, I called a local mobile RV repairman, who told me to call the factory. I did. The after-hours tech rep at Newmar had me look at the LEDs on the controller while The Redhead pushed the button. LEDs 2 and 3 lit up. 1 didn't. He said that meant the microswitch that told the controller the lock was completely retracted wasn't tripped. Sometimes they get out of adjustment. This called for judicious use of a rubber hammer (left over from my MGA--those of you under 100 can look that up. It's an antique car cunningly designed to destroy the British car industry) was supposed to cure this. It didn't on the front one, and the rear one, which I hadn't checked (duh!), was sticking out a bit. He said it would need to go to a service center. I thanked him, and after he hung up, tapped it with the rubber hammer, and it retracted completely, and the slide went out.
The Redhead said, "Two Margaritas for you tonight."
December 11, 2007
Drove to Kingman, the KOA. No problems per se. Still tired. We didn't unload the ML, just bunkered in the bus. Cold.
December 10, 2007
Spent the morning arranging the flight to Houston and 4 doctor visits. The Redhead did laundry. Then we went to the Cowboy Christmas. Wow!! I didn't know there was that much schlock cowboy stuff. The bigger the display, the junkier the stuff. Buck Taylor stood out. Good art. Also good was Old Frontier Clothing Company, maker of frock coats, vests, and accessories. The owner is an excellent salesman, almost talking me into a $275 frock coat and a vest. Then I came to my senses and realized I have a frock coat already. I've had it since August and only wore it once.
The 2007 SASS Convention article is so big it has its own page.
December 4, 2007
People tell us we have the ultimate RV for fulltiming. No, this is the ultimate RV, a Marathon conversion of a Prevost bus, 45 ft. long, generally hard to find new for under 7 figures. Most are custom built. The owners of this one parked it, got in their vehicle, and weren't seen during the rest of our stay. We presumed they're in a suite in some top-line casino.
Then there's this 1960's conversion of a Chevy van, seen in West Texas on the way over.
The Pictures I promised of Cowtown:
One of the ruined buildings
Hugo Bear shooting Frontier Cartridge Duelist very well
Captain Baylor, here shooting the Codymatic, never had a good stage
Wow! What a gun cart!
The Great Mustache Wax Caper
In our list of errands finding a tailor shop to hem the new, skinnier trousers to length for a guy who's paying for the pounding his joints took in his misspent youth, and now the inseam is much shorter than the length Wah Maker and Frontier Classics use as a standard cut. The Redhead had several cleaners/tailors listed, and we put one into the ML's excellent navigation system, found it, and dropped them off for Thursday or Friday pickup.
But I had been less than satisfied with my mustache wax. Now that I'm retired, The Redhead has graciously allowed me to grow a handlebar mustache. Never having found mustache wax at a store in my previous try with a mustache, I had gone online for some. ebarbershop.com had too many to choose from, and I bypassed ordering Clubman/s, which works, for Colonel Ichabod Cronk's. Which, despite ebarbershop.com's pitch, does not. A SASS shooter with a great handlebar mustache said he got Clubman's at Walgreens. So we went to 3 looking for same. While we got a great tour of some nice and not so nice parts of Lost Wages, we found none. I did get to see some interesting billboards, one advertising "Exotics, Blondes, Brunettes, Asians." Another had an Asian name and showed a naked Asian lady with the quote "always a happy ending."
Returned to lunch in the Circus Circus, then The Redhead played poker, and I finished up my CDs and flash drives for my seminars, which, sadly, have no naked Asian ladies and don't guarantee a happy ending. Still, they should be enjoyable to SASS shooters.
At night we went to the Riviera and played Video poker at the Splash Bar, where we met Snakebite, and West Fargo and his son came by. West just lost his right foot. He's taking it well but has a long row to hoe before can walk with a prosthesis. As usual, he's in good spirits.
The Redhead won $250 playing video poker. We quit for the night.
December 3, 2007
The SASS Convention is at the Riviera in Las Vegas. I give 2 seminars at the convention, Black Powder For Dummies, and Authentic Men's Shooting Costumes. This year I'm a judge in the costume contest. I've been second in every Convention costume contest and won the separate Classic Cowboy costume contest a couple of years ago.
Because I got back from the Great Compressor Hunt late last night, I had to get up early to finish up the shop and put the ML in it. Then we had to do the usual to get moving, disconnect and store water and sewer hoses, disconnect and store power cables and TV cable to the trailer, get the inside arranged for travel, and find and secure the cats in the cat carrier, or, as they consider it, Durance Vile. This is sometimes a battle royal. Other times it's the Great Cat Hunt. Arthur Pendragon can hide unbelievably well in a 400 sq. ft. RV.
Then we can put in the slide-outs. I push the buttons. The Redhead watches outside for problems.
Then it's start the engine, pull up the jacks, and warm up the engine, get a Diet Coke and bag of orange slices (the candy, not the healthy ones), empty bladder, wait for The Redhead to get the dog comfortable and then settle herself into her chair, then drive away. Stop. Wait for The Redhead to re-start either the computer or Garmin or both. Then we can go.
It was a long drive. We filled wit #2 Diesel at the Flying J in Kingman and had lunch at the Cracker Barrel. They advertised RV parking, but they didn't mean one our size. We blocked out 43 parking places and 2 dumpsters and told the manager if he needed access to the dumpsters.
Then, when we got back on the road, we saw the signs telling us we were not wanted on 93, the road over the Hoover Dam. Well, it was confusing. Motorhomes were okay, but big trucks weren't, and some trailers. All were subject to search and had to be readily accessible to search. Let's see, after we removed the ML from the trailer I wondered how many cabinets they'd open before I wound up in Guantanamo. No doubt the person searching wouldn't be a gun person and would see several pounds of Goex Cowboy and slowly read "B-L-A-C-K-P-O-W-D-E-R. Hey, Frank, what does that spell?"
Frank, being a supervisor, can read, so he would either be calling for backup or calling to ask what black powder was used for. Is it anything like Baby Powder?
Once they figured out it's a Class B explosive, I figure they'd really start searching then. There are things in the trailer and the bus not appropriate to be viewed by minimum wage gumment employees.
T he sign said "USE ALTERNATE ROUTE." But, of course, it didn't say what that was. It took a while to figure it out. I followed a trucker with a loaded truck. It added a few miles, but I figured I'd get there faster than I would after 20 years in Guantanamo.
We arrived during rush hour traffic, and the various navigation devices went wonky. The Redhead would tell me to turn left on XYZ Street in .1 mile. I'd get across six lanes of traffic, and the Garmin would switch to Right instead of left. This went on for a while. We actually got in sight of the Circus Circus but couldn't find it. A call to the KOA told us we were rapidly getting further and further away from it on the correct road. U-Turning a 65 ft. rig during rush hour isn't easy. But we got there. It was dark at 4:30.
We went to the Circus Circus casino, signed up for their Players Club so we could get a free stay for only $5000, played a little video poker, had dinner, and went back to the bus. We're such wild and crazy partiers.
December 2, 2007
Shootout in the Saguaros
Beautiful day, sunny, slight breeze, 50s. We shot the first 4 stages with the rifle targets where they were planned. Great stages. I didn't consider them complicated. I saw a couple of people get procedurals on one where it was 1-2-3-4-2-3-4-3-4-4. They named the sweep. They have a name for every variety of sweep around here. I don't want to encourage that sort of behavior, so I won't repeat the name here. I would do the usual repetition to get the order down before it was my turn. (Shooting cartridge pistols gives me a lot more time to watch other shooters than shooting percussion. I volunteered to be a spotter a lot. Didn't screw up too badly.
On the above sweep with pistols that means 1-2-3-4-2 and 3-4-3-4-4 with the second. Some people got lost.
I'm of the opinion that there are only so many ways you can shoot 10-10-and 4, so there's going to be some of that to keep thing exciting, but in my misspent youth after the battle not once did God tap me on the shoulder and say, "Sorry, Cap'n. You shot that NVA there out of order. I'm going to have to give you a ten second penalty."
But the stages were fun and well done. Cowtown is a good place to have a match. It doesn't look good at first glance, or, for that matter, the second glance. It's made on a ghost town in a box canyon. The camera is locked in the trailer with the pictures in it. I'll add them at a later date, I hope. I did take pictures of the ruins. After a while I decided they added to the ambience of the place.
No sub 30 second stages, but no major disasters. One miss.
I guess I qualify for professional status. I won 2 dollars in the speed rifle match. I didn't even know it was a pot shoot.
Also won free entry to the Yuma event in January.
Great club. Cowtown is on the list of places to park near for a while to get some practice in. That assumes we get time to do that. I'll be going to the SHOT Show in February and writing about it for The Cowboy Chronicle. Sounds like fun.
When I got back to the bus The Redhead told me the right front tire was down to 110 psi. That set off the Pressure Pro alarm. It had been 113, then 111, now 110. Might be a slow leak. Might be it's cold and that tire's on the cold side. Neither of the air sources will pump it up. We had talked about getting a bigger compressor and putting it in the right front basement compartment where there is power. So I decided to go get one. The Redhead got the address of the nearest Sears, and I put it in the ML's navigation. Got there at 10 to 6. They were supposed to close at 6, but it's Christmas, and the spirit of Christmas is to go shopping on Sunday night. Several people were. They had the right compressor on display, but none in stock. I headed back to the bus and noted a Home Depot. They had the Order-Cable I had before, sheer crap. They also had a 1.5 hp, 150 psi Rigid that didn't weigh too much, so I told the nice man I'd take it. He told me they were out. Then he suggested another Home Depot. He checked the computer, and a near one had 6. So I put it in the navigation and headed for it. Unfortunately it was on the other side of the detour from hell. Got there after 7 to find them closed. A man in an SUV guarding the door said they were closed for their Christmas party. I believe I said something profound like "Merry #@$%! Christmas."
It was eight before I got my Margarita. The Redhead didn't want to make it because .dinner was ready. Finally she realized I could drink a Margarita with dinner.
December 1, 2007
|Shootout in the Saguaros|
|Main Match Day 1|
The Rains Came. It started raining last night and didn't stop. Driving to the range was fun. The unpaved section looked really great in the clouds and rain. The puddles looked like they went all the way across the road and had water going through at about seventeen knots, when, in reality, they just went all the way across the road and had water going through at about seventeen knots.
I saw 2 cars on the side of the road. I stopped and asked if they needed help. The driver said "We're trying to decide if we can get through the high water."
I looked at the river running across the road and pushed the button raising the suspension to 11-12" ground clearance and said, "Let me see."
I got through it okay. Then it took me a minute to catch on that the road was one lane wide with a sheer drop on the left, and it was going up a steep hill.
I looked back and saw the cars I'd helped taking the left turn I'd missed.
I realized then that since I didn't know where the road went, and it didn't look like I wanted to drive up to find out, the only thing to do was to back down the hill.
I tried, but the ML went off the edge and rolled six or seven times.
No, actually I made it down the hill with only ego bruised. But I saw the above scenario six or seven times in my head.
It rained. Did I mention it was raining?
When I got to the range I saw the nature of the problem. What had been the part of the range where rifle targets went was now a raging river with parts of houses being swept across our sight. The rifle targets were no longer standing.
The committee huddled and worked. One guy was out in the water to his crotch. Eventually they rebuilt the stages with either relocated rifle targets or rifle/pistol targets.
About 30 people didn't show up. Just when several of us BP shooters had turned posse 5 into a BP posse, posse 5 was disbanded, and we were spread in the first 4. I was in posse 1. I looked around and didn't know a soul. Oh well, they're all CAS shooters.
I moved to Frontier Cartridge (2 handed pistol hold allowed). But once more I managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I left 2 rounds in the rifle, which is a safety as well as 2 misses, 20 seconds added to the score.
I've gotta stop doing that stuff.
After that my stage times got better, settling in the low 30s. I finally got into the 20s, throwing all caution to the wind and pushing the edge of my envelope. But I missed one. On the seventh, and last stage, I was on my way to a 20s stage time and pulled out the first pistol and started to shoot duelist. That added a couple of seconds. 30.00 seconds total.
I need to work on shotgun. Several 25s became 30 somethings because of slow shotgun handling or fumbling.
Good match. Good posse. Rain came and went. The gun cart got soaked, and I ran out of dry shop towels, but no problems. One real miss and the 2 from stage one. I REALLY like the close targets. It makes me want to really push. The SASS Wire wags who criticize close targets and say anyone can do it never saw someone really good, like San Juan, go through in 15 seconds. The slightest bobble, and your stage is gone. MANY people racked out a live round from the rifle racking it flat out Misses that shouldn't have been abounded.
And yes, the black powder blinded me after the first shot. I was pleasantly amazed when the rifle or pistol sweep worked despite the fact I never saw a target after the first one. I did have to duck and weave on a couple of stages. Shoot the first sweep standing tall, then ducking under the smoke for the next one.
I skipped the pre-paid dinner on site. It was a tough decision. Food on a muddy range with a bomb cratered dirt road in and out, or The Redhead's Margaritas and gourmet cooking. I agonized long and hard on that choice.
I would like to know what Arizona CAS shooters have done to anger the weather gods.