Monday, March 11, 2013

Backpacking Steak Dinner

Nothing really fancy here today, just enjoying a new york steak dinner out in the middle of the wilderness ;)

Please enjoy this short little video, you'll gain a little insight into how i prepare fresh meals on the trail, get to see some incredible scenery, and enjoy a little Jimmi Hendrix as a bonus !!!

Let me know if you do something similar or different, its always worthwile to pick up new backpacking tips, thanks for visiting, happy trails, jeff

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Lost & Found

This is GREAT ... I really like how this turned out in the end ;)

I am a home inspector, i crawl in attics, and under houses as part of my daily routine ... for over 23 years now (over 13,000 inspections!) it's been an honor to help families safely settle in their new homes ... i have the BEST job in the world !!!

so ... when I'm crawling around under houses, it's easy for things to fall out of your pocket and lose them forever. I've trained myself to empty my pockets of EVERYTHING before i go under a house, except my lucky silver dollar which is always in the 5th pocket of my Levi 501's

Well, one day I forgot to unload my trusty swiss army knife, and it got away from me, here's what it looked like

it was a great knife, and I was pretty bummed when I discovered it was "missing". But I wasn't going to go back and re-trace my steps trying to find it, because it was late in the evening, and it could have been anywhere at three different properties I had inspected in cities nearly an hour away ;(

"Excuse me, yes ma'am I know its 10 o'clock at night, but would you mind if i crawl under your house and look for my knife?" ... it just didn't sound right to me, what you think ?

The loss did give me the opportunity though to go get a NEW knife, and I picked the love of my life in pocket tools when i bought a Leatherman Charge ... the thing is amazing, and I have been real good at keeping it safe whenever I am crawling under houses, and in attic crawlspaces.

That alone would have been the way this story ended, except for a certain Mr. Ray Carrier of Take Care Termite who I happened to see today doing a home inspection. I went to open the access cover to get into the sub-area crawlspace, and discovered newly installed carpet had been stapled to the access cover preventing it from being fully removed.

so what does Ray do ??? he says "let me get out my trusty knife and trim the carpet real quick" ... I'm thinking this is a good deal, because the cover was a real bear to pry open, and I didn't want to let it back down to get out my knife and cut the carpet.

Ray reaches into his tool pouch, and he pulls out his swiss army knife ... MY swiss army knife !!!

I said "where'd you get that knife, that's mine!!!"

Ray looks at me, he obviously is wondering what I mean, but he also signals there is "something" to my story by the look on his face, saying "I found it underneath a home in Livermore doing an inspection a few months ago"

I explain to him details about the knife that prove it is my old knife, and we sit there wondering what the heck just happened ... he goes to hand it back to me, and I say "no, I didn't mean for you to give it back to me, I just meant its AMAZING that someone found my knife, and its someone I've known for over 20 years, let alone in this line of work"

here's Ray with his new knife

we had lunch after, and the knife never came up, just like old friends we talked about lots of things relating to home inspections, termite inspections, and the real estate industry ... i won't bore you with the details, because in all honesty, all lunch long all I could think about was ONE thing ... MY KNIFE :0)

and the moral to this story is follow behind me, because if the past is any prediction of the future ... one day you're going to find a beautiful Leatherman Charge ... MY leatherman charge !!!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Skating & Fish Tails ;)

hello ... my name is jeff, my friends call me Jb1ZzLe, most everyone else calls me worse ... hi there ;)

what is it you wish, a skate video you said ???

ok, thank you very much rhyno ... an right naw all y'all knows wise his nickie be "meatjuice" !!!

so, this leads me to my second point, which is :

which ones ewes want to sk8 this one, can i get an eight-man ... lourdes loady?:??

theres this r.e.a.l.l.y. cool dude in oakdale, ca he has a ramp (skate ramp, right, we do know this is a straight up skate moment, coming at your from the 60's?)

anyway, i won't give you his name or the address, because thats not cool, but this is cool, nes't pas ...

i wanna make more for you,
tell me about st helena jay-bizzul,
thats not my name!!!,
none the less,
heres hesher & blake,
nope neither be,

and now, time for dessert kids ;)

... this has to be a FISHY STORY right ... i mean, right ???

you decide, Jb1ZzL3 on location:
ryan's ramp, ripon, ca
undisclosed pool, sorry, ca
oakdale, ca
st, helena, ca
undisclosed #fishing hole, N/A

thanks so much for visiting, get some !!!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Snow Camping in a Quinzhee

One of the activities I really enjoy is volunteering as a Boy Scouts of America Assistant Scoutmaster (ASM) ... I will avoid ALL negative comments about the scouting program, because having been involved for over 10 years, and seeing how many outstanding young scouts became real men before even turning 18, and achieving the rank of Eagle Scout, I know like any other program the outcome is a direct result of the inputs.

I'm fortunate to have a son who is an Eagle Scout, and being involved with him made me aware how much the program provided him a fundamental base no one can ever take from him ... he's an absolutely wonderful human being, honest, kind, sincere, and resourceful; the kind of person you want your children to have as a friend, if not your own child.

So, part of being an ASM is on-going training in all sorts of areas including scout safety, emergency preparedness, troop management, and some fun stuff like wilderness training ;)

This past weekend, our Scoutmaster and I attended High Altitude Training (HAT) with the Bay Area Council at Meiss Meadow, right next to Kirkwood Ski Resort off Cailfornia Highway 88. The weather was perfect for the occassion with highs of 23F and an overnight low of 3F (one of those "never got above freezing" kind of days !

Fun stuff ... and the exact reason the Boy Scouts motto is "Be Prepared!"

We decided to opt out of setting up a tent (brrr!!!) because it wasn't going to provide enough heat retention, and decided instead to build a quinzhee, which is a cross between an igloo and a snow cave. It is designed to keep temperatures inside the quinzhee at 30-40F which is a LOT better than sleeping in a tent with an inside temperature of 3F.

I'll detail in another post how to build a quinzhee, because everyone deserves an opportunity to shovel snow non-stop for 4-5 hours ;)

In the meantime, here's a picture of Mr. Mailhot & I on top of our patrol parters quinzhee, with a distinctly igloo look to it ... as you can see, they're quite strong supporting the weight of two men standing on the roof. Given good conditions, a quinzhee can last nearly a month, so in a survival situation, you could build a quinzhee to stay in for a month, then simply spend another day and build another one that would last you another month ... cheaper than your mortgage too I bet !!!

We spent the day with our new scouting friends Arron & Mike S. from a troop out of Oakley, CA ... they were great company, and I really look forward to seeing them again at a future scout event !

After finishing our shelter it was immediately time for supper, so i whipped up a chicken & kielbasa risotto served over rice ... it was excellent, and provided great enjoyment warming up everyone after a long days work.

Have a closer look at my "kitchen" ... any man's dream !!!

We moved into the quinzhee pretty much right after dinner, because temperatures were already dropping into the teens, and it was getting windy which was making it feel a lot colder :

We put our water bottles inside, along with snow shovels (in case of a collapse!), and my handy candle lantern ... I love the way the candle lantern provides a soft glow throughout the whole quinzhee, it's amazing to look at, and guaranteed to make me sleepy every time :

We awoke to a fresh day, and quickly got to breaking down our shelter (we don't leave them up, in case someone comes along later and it collapses on them). Have a look through the roof, from the front, and down into the quinzhee :

After getting most of the top collapsed, it was time to take one last glamour photo, so back in I went with a handy pine cone and snow shovel used for props:

Maybe it was just the way the lake looked, snow covered and iced over, but I was left with a sense of leaving something special behind as we turned and headed home

There was one guy on the lake snow fishing (in s.t.y.l.e. I might add, look at that beauty of a ice fishing hut, I bet he has internet in there ;)

So, if you ever want your son to experience wonderful training in leadership, values, and all sorts of useful skills, I highly recommend the Boy Scouts program. The key, just like any other youth activity, is to thoroughly evaluate the program before joining, and continuing to monitor your child's activities like a responsible adult should always do. And if your son does achieve the rank of Eagle Scout, then you too will feel humbled (not so much proud, you'll see what I mean if it ever happens!) in your son's accomplishments ... strike that, in HIS accomplishments !!!

Hope you enjoyed the trip, and I sincerely ask all people to support the Boy Scouts of America program ... it is one of the most successful programs for turning out the next generation of America's leaders, in that there is something we can all benefit from.

Nikon AW100
B+W MRC Circular Polarizing Filter

Monday, January 14, 2013

A Walk to Nowhere

Bella & Sandy (my dogs) took me for our morning walk, and i decided to bring the camera to share some places & things along the way. It was a cold, crisp morning and a deep frost lay everywhere making for a very white morning.

Its always a mystery what Bella & Sandy will turn up, so i did my best to capture some wildlife, absent the opportunity to "sneak up" for a good shot. It didn't take Bella long to get the party started, as she went vertical for a left-over almond hanging in a tree (a left-over almond is called a "mummy" ;)

Bella was run over by a truck a few years ago, her right rear hip and right front paw were crushed and had to undergo major surgery (rear leg ball that used to seat in hip pocket had to be sawn off, and her front paw was rebuilt using wire and plates) ... but that doesn't stop her from getting all out of life, including 5 mile walks; she's an inspiration to anyone who knows this beautiful creature ;)

Of course, Sandy is always around to cause mischief ... she is one of the most annoyingly difficult dogs I have ever owned, and she looks it including those red eyes, pink nose, orange eyebrows & eyelashes, pink dagger claws, and that crocodile mouth & teeth

Our first goal was the Stanislaus River which runs right past our backyard, so off we went. You know you're getting close to the river when you see the larger trees, that flourish due to an abundance of available water

It was still cold, and the frost was being persistent, which made for some interesting pictures. We found this little bench along the way, I imagine it has a lot of stories it could tell ... we'll get back to this bench in a little bit ...

To keep the squirrel population down, owl boxes are put up to encourage natural predation, instead of using poison (we're not quite, but almost an organic farm). This box is currently waiting for new residents, any barn owls looking for a new home in this housing debacle?)

Believe me, this sign is NOT for Bella, but she stood right next to it, so it made for a fun picture

The path continued, and we followed it down to the river, winding through lots of trees, brush, and some stickers ...

Finally, we arrived at our first destination, the Stanislaus River ... the river is undergoing a revival currently, so although it remains dirty from historical low flows, the improvements are dramatic & beneficial ... we commonly see otters, the occasional beaver, salmon & striped bass run through, and there are some other wildlife "wonders" that will remain a secret, except to those who live around here ;)

So, Bella knowing exactly what to do in a moment like this, led the way and Sandy & I followed :

It wasn't too long before our restless legs were bored, so we continued back up the trail we had come down, looking for more adventure. This is where the little bench comes back into the picture, look at it sitting under that majestic Valley Oak, and imagine all the reflection that has taken place while people sit and enjoy the natural surroundings (this picture taken for my friend Nancy Gray ;)

We walked by an old barn , it has to be at least 75 years old:

As we continued on towards the gravel pit & percolation ponds, we came across a beautiful walnut orchard, majestic & young, coming into its prime of producing over a ton or walnuts an acre for well over 40 years

We also found some old, rusted out equipment like this wheelbarrow :

As we approached the gravel pit, Sandy stirred up an incredible bird ... it took to wing, and as it was flying I was able to snap this picture (it's wingspan was approximately 6 feet from wingtip to wingtip)

We continued on, and found a bit of sap running out of an almond tree, reflecting in the morning sunshine :

There was also a prickly pear, it's red beautifully contrasting against the green cactus:

But dreams of walking forever ended as we hit the 3 mile mark, so we turned around and headed home, feeling like 6 miles of beautiful companionship in the middle of nowhere was just what the doctor ordered. We walked back through the almond orchards, now frost-free, and the freshly mowed clover & grass was looking absolutely amazing

In fact, where the orchard had recently been mowed and I had earlier swept in a bunch of walnuts, the birds were having an absolute feast, including this wonderfully beautiful Western Blue Bird, which while being beautiful is obviously not the best for camoflauge, probably explaining why they are so shy & evasive (and LOL ... there are at least nine birds in this picture, including TWO in flight, how many can you find?)

As we approached home, the dogs picked up the pace, heading for their water bowl. I had other things on my mind, knowing a quick 30 minute break on this bad boy was exactly what I needed, so I'll leave you here with this final picture (P.S. its a lemon tree in the background, and she's absolutely loaded with wonderful lemons right now :)

We hope you enjoyed our morning walk as much as we did, and appreciate the pictures taken along the way

Nikon D800
Nikon 55-300mm kit lens
Nikon SB700 flash