Saturday, July 26, 2014

First S24O - Paddle style

For father's day this year, my family bought be a really sweet vintage canoe. I say vintage but I think it's probably from the eighties, so really,  not that old. But it had only been used 4 times since new, and was in incredible condition.

This was awesome for me. I've always wanted a canoe, and with the boys getting more into fishing and are coming of age to handle longer stints outdoors, this opens up all new doors and options to squeeze the most out of our summer months.

Over the past few years we've been slowly accumulating gear for camping and hiking. The end goal is back country camping. Just find a parking lot in Kananaskis, and spend the next several days in the bush. It's incredible  country only a few hours from home and it seems a shame to just enjoy it once or twice a year on day trips.

After a year or two of looking for deals, slowly acquiring once piece of gear after another, I think we're pretty much set up to be self reliant in the woods. But, with the higher stakes of driving for a several hours and being further from home, I figured a nice little S24O would be the perfect way to test out our gear and see if we really are ready.

My father-in-laws farm is only 10 minutes from our house, and he has a lake, trees and some nice pasture areas that are a little more exciting than the bald prairies that make up my part of the world. A little pocket of vegetation that makes you feel like you've traveled much further than you actually have. A great spot for a little S24O canoe trip.


After our tradition of pizza friday as a family, the boys and I headed off on our little adventure. We learned a bit, and found a few things out. But for the most part, we are fairly well set up for ultra-light/stealth camping. The biggest thing I would like to better sort out is our tent. There are lots of options for ultra compact 1 or 2 man tents, but when you get up into 3 person tents, the ultra-light options seem to die off. With my pack, and the boys each having their own pack, we can carry everything we need for at least 3 days. Everything except a tent. We might have to give tarp-tenting a try, but I'm not sure the boys (or myself) will enjoy being completely exposed to all the bugs that rush to live their lives during the few summer months we have. We'll see about that one.
video

Another thing I'd wanted to do this trip was test a knife I made. I'm happy with the way it turned out and have spent the last most of a year simply enjoying the knife. But I've been a little hesitant to actually use it. I think part of that is due to the amount of work that I've put into this knife. Working without belt grinders or some of the other tools that are usually associated with handmade knives, I did all the work on this knife with a hand file. It saw me spending hours and hours filing in the evenings, one after another, to make a decent cutting bevel. But, I'm now over the starring at it and need to know if I've actually made a decent usable tool that will last long enough for my sons to use. Or have I made something that simply looks nice? Time to put it through it's bush-crafting paces. I'll make my mind up after a year or so of hard use, but so far the edge retention is doing really well.


We were home by 11 the next morning, and we had a blast. After reading so much for so many years of the S24O experience, I now understand the draw these things. Being able to squeeze a bit of awesome living into what would have been a typical start to the weekend is pretty awesome. Somehow you feel as though you've gotten away with something. I call that a win!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

New blog on the way...

Well, if anyone even has this feed in their RSS reader, you'll know it's been a while and you'll also know it's always been a while for the past several years. I'll blog a few posts, stop, say I'm shutting this blog down and then post again a few months later. It's a ridiculous cycle.

I post a fair bit on my Tumbler Blog. But that is different. It's a quick picture here or a little something there. I basically use it as a photographical tweet. But it's like so many other "social" network sites these days. It's superfluous and artificial. There is no real connection to any readers or viewers. Much like Facebook and twitter have become.

I remember the blogging days of old. There seemed to be almost a group of bloggers that kind of "hung out" together. Like old farmers at the gas station coffee shop. Except it was all online. But there did seem a real sense of relationship there, and you did feel like you were getting to know the person. I've even met, in real life, several of the bloggers I hung out with online. It wasn't a means to self inflate the person posting, it was a genuine sharing of knowledge and experiences. It was reporting what what we were currently working on and learning on. We'd learn with them. It was rad.

Then, it just seamed to sort of fizzled out for the most part. Some of the prolific bloggers disappeared. Stopped posting. I was one of them that stopped posting (not that I was ever all that prolific). I was getting caught up in my new up and running photography business, and my focus changed. I wonder if that inner group of bloggers that actually get to know each other is still out there, and it's just me that's drifted off?

Another facet to that is the fact that my bicycling life has changed dramatically. I don't ride anymore like I used to. I don't obsess and spend any spare time working on bikes like I used to do. I've gotten back to a life long love I've had with firearms. I've taken up knife making. I've finally had success at hunting this past year and also fly fishing. With 4 kids that I'm wrapped up in, time just to myself is very limited and bike's just doesn't seem to make it in there.

Now of course I still do have bikes. Or, a bike I should say. I'm now down to 1 after selling 2 earlier this after several years of complete and utter neglect. I ended up selling off all of my classic, simple beautiful bicycles and bought a Kona Tanuki, because it seems easier to ride that with kids on dirt trails and on the paths in Fernie than anything else.

I am going to start blogging again, but coming at it as more of a writing outlet. It's not going to be some artsy-fartsy writing place. But I feel like I used to put more into the written part of a blog post. I did quite a bit of writing on my photography blog posts, but those were really more to impress people. Surfacely-cool words and meaningless phrases sprinkled with technical jargon would end up being all that it was. It was hollow. Look at me, look at me -(insert technical shit about about f-stops or something)- look at me!!!

I would just keep up on this blog, except that I feel I would fooling the readers regarding it's content based on the title. My interests that I would now be blogging about are quite broad. From my continued exploration in minimalism, craftsmanship, hunting, camping, bushcraft, survival and even a little touch here and there on preparedness. (I feel so dorking evening typing that last one).

Then there is the other side of the coin that says, the tittle of a blog is irrelevant. I still like the blogger platform, and I'm still comfortable with it. I would have a lot of history on the bicycle side of things. I still like this blog and it signifies to me a time of my life that I am proud of and enjoyed. I just don't like to watch it dying.

Anyway, long rambly post to get that off my chest. Again, not sure if anyone even has RSS feeders on this thing, but I'm going to do some searching and get back into that sense of community that I think is one of the very few good places that there are on the old inter-webs.

Cheers!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ready for winter to be over

Springtime in Alberta. Barley a week since the 3 foot drifts on our lawn melted, now we get snow all day. Thinking I should move south. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Levi's 501 Jeans

It's nice to see that a company will still stand behind it's product. I bought a pair of these 501's (which are fairly on the hipster side for me) and was quite happy with them. I live the classic look of a dark denim, the fit and the button fly that I always used to insist on as a kid. After a few days of wear, I blew out the crotch while running around my parents farm yard. I mean completely blew it out: from the crotch to the knee. I tweeted Levi's, got a contact number and started the return process. Without question, I received this nice new pair via FedEx. Good on ya Levi's.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Things that last - Red Wing 8138

I've made commitment in my life to purchase only things I (for the most part) need and for all purchases to buy the best that I can afford. Buy things that will last for years. For my tools at work, this means Snap-on. For knives or guns, it is buying ones that will last my lifetime and be passed down to my sons. And for foot-wear, ones that will give me years of service, can be repaired, re-soled and re-conditioned. These Red Wing 8138s represent this type of purchase. They aren't cheap, but over the course of the 10-15 years that most people say these should last for, they work out to be great value. Quality usually works that way. Don't be taken with the latest and greatest gimmicks, the flashy and new. Think about your purchases and go for quality. Here's to at least 10 years with these boots.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Neighbourhood Shred

With the new snow boards from Grandpa and Gran, waiting for two weeks until their first board lesson just didn't seam doable. So we crossed the street to the sledding hill and gave the new boards a whirl. Temps above freezing were an added bonus. And, it was a good excuse to snap a few pictures on my new (3rd time I've bought this camera) Fuji X100. Maybe I won't sell this one in a few months...









Friday, December 13, 2013

the weakest link

Minus 30 Celsius will test a car. If it passes, you will come out knowing what the weak points of your vehicle are. I learned my starter isn't all what it once was. A little Friday evening swap-er-oni-ru. There is a satisfaction that comes from getting your hands dirty, fixing stuff
and making things last.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

2013 Alberta Blizzard




Living in northern climates can really test your metal sometimes. We're just seeing the last of a winter blizzard that's kept me unable to drive to work, and kept me busy shoveling, snow blowing and pushing out stuck neighbors. Sometimes the snow from my blower was so thick and the wind blowing it right into my face making it so I couldn't even breathe. It was like being stuck under water, but with snow and -17C. Most of the work is done, highways still closed and the fireplace is on. Time to hunker down and enjoy it.












what's this? A blog post? weird

Well, with all good intentions, I want to keep this blog going strong. Or maybe rather, bring it back front he dead to it's somewhat alive state. Blogging seems to have changed from when I first started. Other bloggers have slowed down. Some have gone away completely. Another thing that has changed for me is that I no longer have an office job. I gave that all up to get back on the tools. I'm glad I made the change. Having a journeyman Millwright ticket, I'm now enrolled as a heavy duty mechanic apprentice as well. My employer is pretty darn radical and I thought if I'm putting in hours there, I might as well have them go to another licensed trade. Right now in Alberta, a journeyman ticket affords a very comfortable life, and I can provide for me, my wife and 4 kids on just my income. Nothing wrong with a little dirt under the nails.

Anyway, I'm just going to drop some pictures of the major things that have occupied my time for the last few months.

I've taken an interest in knife making. I have a few down, one that I use regularly, that a few more in the works. My next step with this project is to build a 2" X 72" belt grinder. I've been bevelling my knives with a file by hand and it is a slow, tiring process. But, it's good for the body now and then to be tired from work.



video


I've been out hunting the last two years, but not having anyone experienced take me, I'm learning it all on the fly. This year I finally bagged my first deer. It wasn't a big animal by any means, but for a first and with my bow, I'm happy with it. I also wanted to do everything myself with the harvesting of this animal. Field dressing, skinning and butchering. With all the work that I've put into getting this meat to our table, I think very differently about the value of having meat to eat. When it's not just going out and picking up a plastic wrapped tray and the grocer. Wasting it seems so much more terrible. I think more people would value the cost of meet if they were more involved with the harvesting of it. It's fun to have my two oldest boys learn this with me too. Good father & son time.

(funny how when I actually got my deer I wasn't wearing any camo for have any of my fancy hunting gear and hadn't planned on hunting at all. Kind of makes me wonder how much of the hunting world is just consumeristic mumbo jumbo.)

A little vacation time down south for my wife and I and we're now back into the full swing of the boys hockey schedule and my daughter's dance. Life is busy, but it's good.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

A fly-fishing, mountain-biking mini adventure

Life can be mighty fine in Fernie. The access to amazing trails and rivers. It's almost too easy to get out on little adventures. Ride out of our condo, and boom. Living it up and loving it. We didn't catch any fish which is typical for us as we're new fly-fishermen, but we did have fun. Got a sunburn, wet feet and we smelled of river when we returned home. I'd say it was a good day.

Rode some gorgeous single track looking for a spot to whip our lines.

 With all the flooding, there was quite a bit of debris long the trail and a few sections were washed into the Elk river completely.

 Waded through some slower water to get to the bank we wanted to fish.
 portaging with bicycles...
 While the boy's technique isn't perfect yet, they're getting closer. Important thing, they've got the patience for it. 
 Some rad Albertan with this Ferrari 308 GTB enjoying the mountain roads on a beautiful day. 

This is the way I want to live my life. Feels good.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Kona Tanuki

Well I didn't really see this happening but it did. And now I have it with me in Fernie. Really diggin this departure from my typically cycling style.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Garage Project

With spring comes the bug to get things in order. A freshening of sorts to go along with with new season. I've had an idea in my head for some time of what I wanted my garage to look like, but never quite had the gumption to get it done. Until now.

I have a lot of tools. I love tools. At work, seeing as I earn a living with my tools, and at home. At home because I hate having to get someone else to do things for me. Change my oil, fix household appliances, build a deck. The thought of me getting someone to do these things for me just doesn't seem to jive. That's just me. It's just how I'm wired. If others prefer to hire these tasks out, good for them. But me, I'm built to use my hands, and I find great satisfaction in it.

All of these tools I had have always been organized in my garage and stored on industrial racking. The problem is, you can see them. It doesn't matter how tidy it is, how lined up everything is, when it's all visible on racking, it looks like just a bunch of junk. My idea of a 'dream garage' was to hide it all from sight and give the appearance of an empty minimalist garage, but still highly functioning for all those satisfying tasks I keep busy with. Not wanting to dump a bunch of cash on pre-made cabinetry, I built my own. It took two weekends but the end result is just how I had wanted it.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Spring time in Alberta

Ian Tyson isn't wrong. We've had a few glimpses of the seasonal change we've been looking forward to, and the bam! More snow. More cold. More ice covered roads on the early morning drive to work.

Monday, February 04, 2013

To the mountains

No better way to celebrate a birthday than ditching work for a few days and enjoying some skiing in the Rockies without the crowds that weekend brings. Slow paced and beauty all around. I like living so close to this.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Homemade Bacon

Keeping my new smoker smoking away, we made our own bacon. Start with fresh pork belly, remove the hair (gross) cure, smoke, remove the skin and it's ready to be cooked up just like store bought bacon. The flavor however, is nothing like store bought bacon. It's amazing! It's the difference between fresh baked homemade bread and white wonder bread. They almost shouldn't be titled with the same word. Well worth the effort, and if you have a smoker and haven't tried bacon yet, you should.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Jerky

Christmas present from my sweet wife. First batch is smoking away. Can't wait!