Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Celebrating the John 3:16 time of year!

Well, things are entering the "OhMyGodOhMyGodOhMyGod!" stage of the adoption here at the Wether household. Considering the time needed to do a quality Christmas coupled with the extra demands of the adoption I have decided to put this blog on hiatus until after the holiday season. Don't worry though, by mid-January I'll have a slew of new adventures, gear, and pictures to share with y'all. Perhaps exciting tales of taking down Christmas lights blindfolded or my quest to return a doohicky using only patomine to converse with the store clerk. Who knows what item I'll accidently ignite, fall off of, or be chased by? I have lots of vacation time saved up, the weather is supposed to be a mixture of good & bad, I have a new sword, and at some point we'll disappear to China for a bit. Sounds like a winning combination to me! Oh yeah, I also already know what I'm getting for Christmas: a one person canoe loader!! Woo hoo! This means the Wethergirls will finally be able to join me on my canoe adventures. Miniwether is pumped about this though Misseswether has asked that we avoid alligator-infested waters until Miniwether is capable of fighting them off with a knife. I immediately called some of the local martial arts schools and inquired about alligator/knife-fighting classes for three year olds, but they all hung up on me, most with very un-Christmasy comments. Phooey on them and their limited skill sets!

So, on that note I wish you all the best, blessed Christmas and an absolutely wonderful New Year. See y'all on the other side of the champagne bottle!!!

Adventure! Excitement! Celebration!

Friday, December 15, 2006

aboard this tiny ship...

The drumming continued late into the night. Pirates appeared with good beer and delicous food all offered to me freely. Laughter and song, drumming and fire, dark green eyes flashing from behind a gossamer veil...

When I finally broke free of those bonfire enchantments the island tried a new tactic to keep me past the timegate's closing. A large, snuffling beast blocked the path leading back to my camp. My first thought was it was a wild boar for it was of that shape and size. It made a slobbery, sniffing sound there in the dark. I stood paralyzed for a moment and then press forward, hand on my knife by my side.

I would not fear this place.

Illusion. As with everything on this island, it was just another illusion. My path was blocked by Steve, the pirate who had originally invited me to join the drummers fire. He had wandered off earlier that evening with a flagon of ale and now lay here passed out from drink.

The island knew it couldn't scare me into staying so it tried playing on my kindness. The temperature had been dropping and this pirate, he would fair poorly if left as he was. I returned to the drummer's fire and led them back to their friend. The dancers followed in hopes of teasing the pirate, but when they saw his state they had naught but pity for him. The men lifted Steve up and set off to return him to his ship, The Dark Cloud. I was left alone in the dark with the dancers.

This island does not give up souls lightly. Once again I found myself heading away from the nexus point to lead the dancers safely back to their camp. At the edge of their bonfire's light I stopped and bid them a good night. Turning then I left once more for my camp. This time the island did not try and stop me. The dried cow-dung I had fed my fire earlier had burned down to three small glowing embers but it was enough to lead me back to my camp. I crawled into my bedroll and stared up at the tree branches.

Off in the other camp the drums started again but, being warm and comfy, I felt little draw to them. I drifted off into that weird half-sleep...

Only to snap awake again to yipping and howling of coyotes. My fire had died and suddenly I felt defenseless and trapped in my tight-fitting mummy bag. I can defend myself against beautiful women offering ale but a pack of wild dogs? Those can be trouble. I freed my arms from the bag and pulled my kukhri closer. The coyotes did not sound close, but they did not sound far away either. As I listened trying to pinpoint them a new sound rose up. Rain falling on leaves. A cold, wet, frightened person alone in the woods would surely return to a warm bonfire shared with good fellows.

But the island still hadn't realized it was dealing with an adventurer.

Rain fell. The outer layer of my bedroll is a waterproof canvas cover and it kept me dry. I drapped it's large "awning" over my head and was sealed off from everything but the sound of the rain and the occasional coyote's howl. Eventually I drifted off again.

Morning came with birdsong replacing the coyotes. The drizzle came and went as I made more oatmeal for breakfast. After that it took just a few minutes to pack up Jade Hawk and head back through the nexus, back to my time.

I had escaped the island.

But...I can still see the silken women and taste the fine meats. I hear the songs and laughter of those who called me friend. I smell the blackpowder of the cannons...

It calls.

And I know when the heaven's align again and the gateway to that time-caught island opens I'll be there waiting to cross over again.

It calls...

Adventure! Excitement! Avalon!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

...that started from this tropic port

There are times when an person, reflecting on their current situation, ponders how different their life would be if other choices had been made. For instance, finding themselves huddling under a peice of canvas far away from home as the rain extinguished their cow-dung fire while off in the distance hunting coyotes yipped and howled might lead one to thinking that they had made a series of bad decisions.

But if you are an adventurer the main thought going through your head in such a place at such a time is, "Is this great or what?!".

As usual, things had started many hours earlier. The sun was but a red glow in the East when I set out in Jade Hawk. My goal was the Pirate Island of Avalon. A susposedly mythical nexus where things blended and time ran sideways. Legend claims that when a particular celestial alignment occurs one could enter this sidetracked peice of time.

You don't even need a flux capacitor.

A sword and pistol come in very handy though. And a disguise:
Ranglok.

Well, the legend was true. If you go to the right spot at the right time you will end up amongst pirates!
pirates
I, Captian Bonnie, her first mate, Grog, and assorted other freebooters, bucaneers and castaways.

And dancers, too!
dancer
The man in the green/black/gold coat is the King of the Island of Avalon. He's also a damn fine drummer!

Singing of the sea, its cold depths and the dark fate of souls lost to it.
song shantysinger Everybodysings

Deny this cold fate with more dancing!
dancers EverybodyDances
The red-haired Captian Bonnie offered her ship, The Scurvy Cat, and her crew to help me rescue my daughter, Microwether, currently held captive in Canton, China. Alas, even her band of cutthroats and vilianous exiles are no match for the Chinese government. So instead she and I spent our time looting and pillaging benchs. Hey, on an island filled eternally with pirates there wasn't much else to pillage.

Only one man can come and go to this island on a whim. It explains a lot about where he gets HIS loot...
Santa

Alas, to avoid permenantly joining the ranks of these trapped pirates I had to be at the nexus point by the following daybreak. Rather than partake in more song and the free-flowing rum I slid away into the woods, east to where the sun would rise in fourteen hours. The woods were thick and dark as twilight approached. I spread out my bedroll and gathered dried cowdung and wood for a fire. The woodgas stove supplied hot water for my supper of oatmeal+hot coco mix+peanut butter.
bedroll
The sun set and outside the light cast from my small fire there was nothing but darkness. Then the sound of drums began.

And they came closer.

And closer.

Two gypsy drummers and one very drunk pirate joined me by my fire to parley. A friendship was struck and they invited me to their fire where there was much food, ale, music...

And belly dancers.

I joined them. What man could resist? Deep down I knew it was the island trying to lure me, but being an adventurer, I knew the risk and thought I could avoid becoming lost.

Music played, ale flowed, ladies shimmied and moved like silk in a gentle wind. Above, clouds moved in and blocked my view of the stars, taking away my clock of Cassiopeia and the Big Dipper.

To be continued...

Adventure! Excitement! Escape!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Marley was dead.

Time travel is a whole lot of paradoxy fun, but sometimes just going back to what was isn't enough. Sometimes you need to go back to what wasn't...
MarleysGhost

Saturday's tromp in the woods (see following post) was great, but as usual nothing can compare to firing up our Honda Pilot's flux capaciter. In a flash of nearlight we were back roaming the streets of London during the Victorian Era. Or, more precisely, the Victorian Era London of "A Christmas Carol". Yep, we made the quantum leap to Dicken's on the Strand and oh man was it a blast!

A cold wind was blowing keeping the temperature down in the low 40'sF all day even though the sun was shining bright. But this didn't stop the fun of watching great street performers such as:

The Merri Mary Show.
MerriMary
54 years old and still the most amazing acrobat outside of China!

The Players.
Players
It makes sense that a bunch of drunken beggers could put on one of the best Christmas Pagents we've ever seen. Certianly the funniest, too.

The Bilge Pumpers
pirates
Pirates with rhythm (well, at least volume). Look closely at the thing behind them. It's not a building, it's a cruise ship.

Mysto the Magi
MystoMagi
I wish I were half as funny as this guy. He's the most entertaining magician I've ever seen. You'll never look at a banana the same way again after seeing his act! Sidenote: he isn't a hunchback, it's just Miniwether is short.

The Ghost Fiddler
ghostfiddle
Making glassware sing is a vanishing art but five minutes listening to Donal Hinely will make you want to add these magical sounds to your iPod. The fact that he had to keep his hands wet to play the glasses and in the cold wind they were turning an ugly blue color did not stop his show. The man can make music! Now, if he'd just leave politics out of his songwriting.

Misseswether fell in love with the fiddling family.
FiddleFamily
I however have always been a bit scared of families that all dress alike. I think that goes back to The Osmonds. Warning you do NOT want to click on the Osmond link!!!

Of course, it wasn't just wonderful acts. It was also FOOD ON STICKS!!! Woo hoo!!!
stickfood
Miniwether ate two sausages on sticks and then moved on to a corn dog. She's really learned to appreciate the finer things in life...

Miniwether also like the soft, fuzzy alpaca.
alpaca
Mmmm, wooly!

And of course the snow made her squeal with frozen delight.
snow snow3

Every child instinctively knows how to make a snowball.
snowball
I don't know why she wanted to take her gloves off while doing this. Of course, this is also the girl who likes to be rinsed off in the tub with ice-cold water. I love her, but sometimes she's a bit weird.

Why I'm the luckiest guy alive.
MandM
She's married to me!

Long live the Queen!
QueenV
It started to snow as Queen Victoria's parade came past. Sticking my tongue out to catch some flakes I discovered snow in the Victorian age tasted like soap.

Of course, every Christmas festival needs a visit from St. Nick and this one did not disappoint, especially in Miniwether's opinion. Everytime he spied our little girl he gave her a candycane. Miniwether could spot him from two blocks away!
FatherChristmas

As usual the day ened far too soon. Travelling through time doesn't give you any extra minutes, it just makes the minutes you are blessed with more fun. Miniwether and Misseswether were asleep within minutes of returning to the Honda. That was a good thing though. I wanted to replay the day in my head a few times while the memories were still fresh. They are definately ones I don't want to lose. Actually, that's pretty much the reason for this blog, to allow me instant access to my adventures and the other best moments of my life. I hope y'all have as great a time living your lives as I do. "There's magic around, you just have to see it" is a pretty cliched statement but that only makes it more true. There's adventure outside your door. Go find it!

Adventure! Excitement! Victorian Explorers!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Girls Gone Wild.

Okay, for those of you offended by the title of this post it's just a scientific experiment to see if my blogs visitor count suddenly jumps up. With a title like that I expect to double my number of visitors.

And actually, it wasn't just girls. The total count was five girls, two boys, three dads and one mom having a dirty old time.
otherhalf Half

Really though, what can be better way to spend Saturday afternoon in the Montgomery County Nature Preserve? How about an afternoon there with all your friends, crisp cool air, and no mosquitoes? It was PERFECT. Even the homebody Misseswether had a good time.

The meaning of "Logged On" in the woods:
LoggedOn
Success
See the triangular sandbar to the right of the log? That's quicksand. If she had fallen in it would have been a heck of a time getting her back out. I haven't told Misseswether that yet, she'll learn about it when she reads this.

This is a very good place.
Pretty

Along with Clark, the Clarkettes, and the Clark-cousins we also brought along our neighbor The Actor and his daughter (refered to in this blog as "BEBS" or "Blue-Eyes-Big-Smile"). BEBS was born the same day we got home from China with Miniwether so they've been close ever since. The Actor and his family like to go hiking but they never knew of this patch of nature three minutes from our house. They loved it.

Creek scout
I'd put a clear shot of The Actor's face up, but I'd have to pay him. You'll just have to look at my mug again. Sorry, it's not nearly as nice looking as his.

As usual, I had to look for petrified wood even if we couldn't take it home with us (It's a nature preserve not a nature take-what-you-want). The Clark-cousins had never done this but caught on quickly and pulled up some really pretty peices of the stuff. They also quickly figured out that throwing rocks into the water is a lot of fun. Back when I was young I'd spend all day damming up the creek behind our house, building a small village of mud house down from this dam, then breaking the dam and destroying the village. Oh man, that was so much fun! It may also explain why I didn't date much in high school, but I digress...

All the pretty rocks:
rocks

Meanwhile Miniwether and the Clarkettes enjoyed the sandy beaches of Panther Creek.
MCC

She did stop playing in the sand long enough for use to get this family shot. Miniwether tried really hard to spin the log to toss Misseswether and me into the water. Luckily the log was stuck. Last weekend when Clark and I were out here we had tried to set that same log afloat, but it was too waterlogged and sunk. Heavy rains earlier this week must have pushed it back near the shore.
Family

Life is very, very good.

Adventure! Excitement! Neighbors!

Monday, November 27, 2006

More on the Amazing Box o' Stuff

There's been a suprisingly large amount of interest in my Amazing Box o' Stuff. People have e-mailed me wanting to know what are it's dimensions, what all is in it, and will I post pictures of me in the nude next to it...

Sometimes the internet can be a very disturbing place.

Okay, no nude shots of me with the box (unless a large amount of money comes my way) but the other requests seemed reasonable. Without further ado, here be the Amazing Box o' Stuff! Click on the pictures to bring up larger views.

Here is the church:
ABOS1
Flat on its back, excluding the feet made of 2"x4"s, it's exterior dimensions are 34.5" long, 17.5" wide and 14.5" deep. It is made out of 3/4" plywood which I sanded and coated witha polyurethane varnish to make it weather resistant. it is held closed by a stainless steel which allows me to lock it while away from the camp. The thick manila rope is used as a handle when carrying the Amazing Box o' Stuff.

Here is its steeple:
ABOS3
Set up right getting ready for action. You can see the outer ("back") shelf in its stored/locked position. It is held closed with an "L" shaped hook. I have no idea how big the shelf is other than being 14" wide.

Open the church and here are the people:
ABOS5 ABOS6
Starting top shelf from left: Hatchet and tent stake mallet hanging from a hook. Behind them is a roll of paper towels. Next to hatchet/mallet are two Plexiglass wine goblets and a stainless steel camp mug. Then comes three heavy-duty plastic 'True-Latch" brand boxes (purchased from Gander Mountain fishing department). The contents of these three boxes will be detailed below. next to the boxes is a large cast iron frying pan wrapped in paper towels.
Lower shelf from left: A large, cast iron grill (hard to see in picture), then 24" marshmallow/hotdog roasting forks, black enamel camp coffee pot containing cylinder of propane, then another cylinder of propane. Just below the propane is a travel mug with lid. Below the the coffee pot and travel mug are an assortment of pots ranging from 1/2 quart up to 6 quarts. Below those pots are two more frying pans, one aluminum and the other blue enamel. A f-qt mixing bowl also stays with the assorted pots but I took it out so you could see the pots better. The pots are very vain and want everyone to have a clear look at them. Silly pots.
Last is the Coleman model 424 duel fuel stove. I also purchased this converter which allows me to use propane in this stove making it a tri-fuel stove. Sweet!

The shelf is 18.5" from the bottom floor of the box giving me about 1" of space between the shelf and the Coleman stove. The shelf is 13" deep on the right side and only 10" on the left. This allows me to store extra long stuff in the box.

The three plastic boxes (sorry, the children's rhyme stopped being funny to me):
ABOS7
Upper left: rope, Stanely "Snake light", assorted lighters, carbiners, trashbags, first aid guide, handles for grill, assorted other useful thingies.
Upper right: Cooking utensils, measuring cups, cutting board, tongs, pot lifters, wine knife, churchkey, and silverware.
Lower: Chain for back shelf, potholders, camp soap, small bottle of bleach, scrubbing pad, more lighters, heavy duty aluminum foil, assorted seasonings, cooking oil, matches and a cookbook.

Back shelf and paper towel holder:
ABOS9 ABOS8
The chain starts on the shelf's right hook, goes up through an "S" hook on the latch, down to the left hook, then under the shelf and through the paper towel tube back to the right hook. I think this is the coolest part of the Amazing Box o' Stuff.

It is much easier to move the Amazing Box o' Stuff if you have two people but I can manage it be myself. Originally I thought the whole thing weighed around 50 lbs. However it turns out it is more like 80+ pounds. Apparently carrying Miniwether for six blocks every night has made me stronger. Sweet!

Okay, that's a detailed look at and in the Amazing Box o' Stuff. Feel free to contact me for more information on it but remember, nude shots will cost you $$$$!

Adventure! Excitment! ABoS!

p.s. I forgot, there is also a large pair of leather "fireplace" gloves in th Amazing Box o' Stuff. I also plan on adding a Coleman propane lantern and a small shovel.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

11 miles in my backyard.

It is good to have one's backyard touch the borderlands. The ability to step out and leave behind polite society keeps me sane (or at least helps me fake sanity).

So, Black Friday found Clark and I spending the day hiking in the borderlands. We'd walk for a while then spot a sweet sand bar just begging for a small campfire. Off would come the backpacks, out would come some snacks and a way to make requested fire. After 30-40 minutes of sniffing woodsmoke and searching for petrified wood we'd pack up and head off again.

Fire therapy.
Fire1

More fire therapy.
ClarkFire

Boiling water with woodgas.
Woodgas2

We spent seven hours out there and walked over 11 miles according to my GPS unit. But the really great thing was we never got farther than two miles away from my house. We've been exploring this area for almost three years now and have yet to tread on a majority of the land or follow the same path. The Spring Creek borderlands stretch for miles in each direction uninhabited thanks to periodic flooding. It is the most amazingly wonderful backyard a person could have within 100 miles of Houston.

Our GPS track.
11-24-06walk

Spring Creek
SpringCreek

All along the banks of Spring Creek were strange tracks like something dragged itself through the sand.
Tracks
We are assuming turtles made the tracks though we have seen alligators along here. The tracks were usually 6"-12" across and would come out of the water, cross the sand and disappear into the woods.

Spring Creek is occasionaly turbulated by outcroppings of clay. These clay deposits are fairly hard but get carved into interesting features. They also allow for fairly dry crossings of the creek when it is running low.
Clay Clark

Back when we did the First Descent of Spring Creek we portaged Seeker's Fate over stuff like this. Walking under it is much easier.
Tree

We ended our walk at the Montgomery County Preserve. Having bushwacked for seven hours, we were tired. Rather than turn around and walk the two miles home we gave Clark's wife a call. A few minutes later we were driving home. A few minutes after that I fell asleep on Clark's couch. I just meant to sit for a bit. Walking the block to my house I caught Mini- and Misseswether as they made a drop stop from their Black Friday shopping excursions. Silly girls! Malls instead of sandbars? That's just plum insane.

Adventure! Excitement! Exploration!