Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Drowning in Spring Creek: Updated

Update: Randle's body has been found.

Yesterday (Tuesday, May 29th) thirty students from a nearby high school headed down to the Riley-Fuzzel Nature preserve to go swimming in Spring Creek, ignoring the fact that the flow rate was over 2000 cubic feet per second. Spring Creek is considered too dangerous to canoe at 600 cubic feet per second.

Thirty went to the creek. Twenty-nine returned.

May God watch over Randle Terry's soul.

Texas Equusearch is trying to find him, but bad weather is hindering their efforts. Search boats had to launch into the San Jacinto river down at Hwy 59 then motor up the San Jacinto to Cypress creek, then from Cypress creek to Spring creek. It's over fifteen miles dodging partially submerged tree branches and other fast-moving debris in the brown, racing water. By canoe it takes almost seven hours.

Note to self: donate money to Equusearch.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


If you read this blog you've probably heard/seen Les Stroud, aka Survivorman. He gets paid to be dropped off in the middle of nowhere and film his attempts to survive. So far he's collected each paycheck. His survival gear usual consists of nothing plus a Leatherman multitool. Seven days later his producer comes back and gets him.

It's a really cool show.

Well, the first season is now available on DVD for only $16 at Walmart. This is half the price of anywhere else PLUS you get a thrid, bonus DVD showing how to survive a flooded out house, car and office building. It totally rocks! We had a survivor party last Monday and the guests were spellbound. Here in Houston flooding is a regular event yet very few people are prepared. The bonus "Urban Disaster: Flood DVD really hit home and made an impression.

Now maybe next time there's a natural disaster here they won't all end up on my doorstep.

Anyway, if you like this blog then go to Walmart and get the Survivorman DVD. Sidenote: absolutely no one has paid me or given me anything in return for this endorsement. That really ticks me off. C'mon suppliers! I know you read this blog! Toss me a bone!

Oh yeah, that speaking of bones, if you've ever wanted to see how a taxidermist stuffs an elephant head over to the Gander Mountain store on I-45 in Spring, TX. They are are doing it live (except for the elephant) there right now. Elephant skulls look cool.

Adventure! Excitement! Will Adventure for Cash and Gear!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Practical Wilderness Survival

So simple, even a caveman could do it.
-Blatant theivery from Geico

Actually, you don't have to be a caveman to survive in the woods. Sure, it'll impress the other island survivors if you can whip up a fire from two sticks but they'll also probably see you as a threat and vote you off once supper has been cooked.

I need to work on my run-on sentences.

Anyway, it seems there's always some lost hunter, hiker or boyscout in the news. Many are ill-prepared in skills or gear to handle the situation. Spending as much time in the woods as I do, I've assembled a kit that goes with me every time I'm off the pavement. With it I can start a fire, build a shelter, purify water, signal for help, and even do some minor repairs.

My survival gear is made up of three objects: A neck knife with compass and spark rod, an orange bandana, and the main kit. Obivously the bright orange bandana can be used to signal but bandanas also have many other uses. This bandana usually goes in my back pants pocket.

The knife started out as cheap, tanto-style blade in a zytel sheath with a whistle. I wrapped the handle with bright yellow nylon string. Cordage is a pain in the arse to make in the woods so I always make sure I have plenty with me. Along this line I replaced the bead chain necklace with more nylon cord with a break-away connection. The break-away is very important, I don't want to end up hung by my lifesaver! Next, I carved a small groove in the edge of the sheath and epoxied a flint striker in it. A scrape of a knife along this striker showers tinder in super-hot sparks, usually resulting in instant ignition. The final modification was the addition of a small compass to the necklace cord. I may epoxy the compass to the sheath, but for now it's just tied on.

The main kit contains everything else. It all resides in a large BDU wallet which goes in a front cargo pocket of my pants.. This wallet has several interior pockets and straps to hold my fire-making, shelter, signaling, water purification and repair gear.

1. Spark Lite Fire Starter
2. Mini Bic Lighter
3.Katadyn Micropur MP1 Water Purification Tablets
4. 25' Mil-Spec Paracord
5. Plastic Mesh Bag + 1 Qt. Ziploc Bag
6. NATO Survival Whistle

Unpacking some...
1. Spark Lite Fire Starter
2. Mini Bic Lighter
3. 25' Mil-Spec Paracord
4. Flattend Duct Tape
5. NATO Survival Whistle
6. Plastic Mesh Bag + 1 Qt. Ziploc Bag
7.Katadyn Micropur MP1 Water Purification Tablets
8. Gerber Microlight LST Knife

The water in most areas I go can easily be made safe for drinking just by killing any bacteria/viri present in it. This can be done by boiling or with chemicals. If by chance I lose my water bottle I still have a 1 quart Ziploc bag (2.) to hold water. The Ziploc bag is strengthened with the plastic mesh bag (1.). To then purify the water I just drop in a Katadyn Micropur MP1 Water Purification Tablet (3.)
One should always try and find out what treatments are necessary to purify water in the area you be in. For instance, the water along the 4-C trail in central Texas can't be made safe by boiling or chemical means. Heavy metals in it require an activated carbon filter to make it safe. Meanwhile, the waters of Spring Creek have only bacteria dangers which can be handled by boiling, chemical treatment, or a water filter.

Shelter from bad weather can be a life-saver and so my kit contains:
1. 25' Mil-Spec Paracord for tying up the AMK Heatsheet.
2. Dental floss - wonderfully strong fiber for tying/stitching/repairing gear, fishing, or many other uses. Probably should have gone in the "Misc. Kit" photo.
3. AMK Heatsheet. These are WAY more durable than the flimsy mylar space blankets.

Fire (my personal favorite!) is covered three ways. Bic lighters are a cheap, small and durable way to start a fire. I usually have one loose in my pocket plus the spare in my survival kit. The long, greenish thing is a Spark Lite fire starter, which basically is the sparking wheel and flint from a lighter. A flick of the wheel send a shower of sparks onto your tinder. The tube at the top holds the Sparke Lite's tinder. The orange stripe in the tindertube is a zip-tie. Pulling on it pulls the tinder cubes out of the tube.

For visual signaling I have a polished stainless steel mirror from my Boy Scout days. The hole in the center is used to aim the sunbeam at a passing plane or other potential rescuer. There's also the whistle in the wallet as well as the whistle on my neck knife. Finally, the orange bandana in my back pocket. Hopefully one of these will attact the attention I might need. Sidenote, I carry a cell phone with me, but electronic devices are too fragile to rely upon.

To finish it off, the kit holds another compass, knife, and a small LED flashlight. Considering I have the neck knife as well as 2-4 other knives with me while in the woods (I like sharp objects!) the small folder probably isn't needed. But it's so small and light I stick it in there anyway. If need be I could lend it to someone else.

So that's my emergency gear. Making a knife from a shard of flint, starting a fire with two sticks or building a debris shelter is useful knowledge, but in an emergency isn't it better to carry a few objects that will work much better? Of course, this kit assumes you've done all the normal pre-hike safety stuff like get maps of the area, left an itinery with someone trustworthy, have a first aid kit, etc... If you have suggestions or questions drop me a line. I'd love to hear them.

Adventure! Excitement! Lots of knives!

Friday, May 18, 2007

180 post, 2 years & 1 day

I was just looking at my blog. Wow, my first post was on May 17th, 2005. I've been at this for over two years! My record one-day number of page loads was 195. My average daily page load is 93. Who would have guessed I get so many visitors and not one offer of money for product placement. Hello, I've got plenty of eyeballs Mr. Manufacturer-of-outdoorsy-stuff! Send me some gear and I'll use/review it!

Adventure! Excitement! Capitalism!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Backwards in High Heels

Here's your hat.
-Mommawether's comment to Poppawether after we were all in a car wreck.


Actually, that car wreck happened three years ago, but it pretty much sums up my mom. NOTHING fazes her. She'll look around, see what needs to be done and then does it. Wether it's milking cows, handling chemotherapy or watching doctors sew her son back together. It's all done with grace and humor. Her life is a story worth telling, but she's too modest to say much. I've only gathered bits and peices over the years, like when their barn burned down, the fears she had during WWII, and bits of different aliments she's had (she's the only person I know with more scar tissue than me!).

Nothing slows her down. She can keep up with anyone and get anything done. She's one of my hometown's walking reference library, yellow pages and Consumer Reports wrapped up together and smelling of vanilla and AquaNet hairspray. The title of this post refers back to Ginger Rogers and how she did everything Fred Astaire did but backwards in high heels. That's my mom!

And she makes AWESOME cookies, too.

Adventure! Excitiment! MOMMY!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Family Tales

Tonight around 4:30 my friend is picking me up to go out and familiarize myself with his ATV's before we climb the mountain to his cabin.
We are going about an hour away from here, he has some bear sets there he wants to check.
He has hipowered guns on both ATV's. Hope the ATV he loans me is faster then his. The bears are out of hibernation now and are hugnry.
Sure looking forward to going up that mountain.

-Email from my one-legged, 75-year old dad earlier this week, currently up in Alaska.

Note the really large revolver on his hip.

The above picture/message pretty much sums up Poppawether. He and Mommawether are up in Alaska right now visiting my brother. Mommawether is mad at him because he paid a bush pilot over $200 to fly him up over the arctic circle. I understand his reasoning completely. Alas, Misseswether faces the same problems with me.

However, I do try and make it up to her. For instance, this weekend I took her and the girls up to Huntsville for the annual Airing of the Quilts. Yep, lots of pretty fabric cut up and sewn back together with millions of stitches.

Happy happy Missewether!

Amazing work.

Mambowether finds something more interesting...

Best advertisment ever.

Some of the quilts were pretty amazing, but they really can't keep the son of a bear-hunter interested. Misseswether knew that and so beforehand she let me draw her into the borderlines for a bit. She's a good, good woman. The fact that yummy mulberries were juicy and ripe helped.

So very good...

And don't forget the escargot. Missewether found it, Miniwether claimed it.

Ready to poke any monsters.

mambo1 mambo2
Mambowether on the loose.

We also had the pleasure of meeting up with "kmat" from the forum. That website is filled with a lot of smart gearheads. If you want to know what's the best LED flashlight or way to purify water while hiking, they are the ones to talk to.

Electrons made real.

It was a good weekend which almost made up for the previous week from hell at work. I had a meeting with my latest boss today (I went through three bosses last week due to rather vigorous reorganizations) and he asked me to meet with some field engineers to find out what technology the desire the most. The catch? The engineers are in Russia, China, and South America. Looks like me and my passport are heading back to the airport. Wonderful.

Adventure! Excitement! Many Things!