Thursday, May 28, 2009

A gathering of like-minded folk.

So a few weeks ago I got an email from one of the owners of Two Wolves Outdoor, a seller of fine outdoors/adventure gear (hey Charlie, how about becoming a sponsor of this blog!). He invited me to the Texas Hoodlums Spring Thing up in the Texas Hill Country. Outdoor survival experts Ron and Karen Hood were going to be there along with the famed ethnobotonist T.R. Zimmerman. I've been a big fan of all these people for a long time and to be asked to join them for a long weekend of camping was a dream come true!

Misseswether and the Wethergirls came along, too. This required a bit more gear than my normal adventures.

The Hoodlums were camping out at the wonderful Oxford Ranch Camp near Llano, Texas. Yahoo maps said it was 4.5 hours away.

The truck flipped over on I-45 with it's trailer across three lanes added an extra 1.5 hours to the trip.

We left home at exactly noon and saw this sign at exactly 6pm. There was much rejoicing.

I belong to way too many internet forums about wilderness and survival and wilderness survival. I've come across the Hoodlums a few times but they always intimidated me. These men and women really know there stuff. Ron and Karen's videos are by far the best ones out there for learning you way around the woods. Basically, they are what I want to be someday. The rest of the people on their forum are just about as amazing.

And they asked me to join!

OMG! Me and the family with Ron and Karen Hood!

Quite a few Hoodlums were already there before us. Mr. and Mrs. Wolf came over to greets us and said if I needed anything just to give a yell. I thanked them then set up the Amazing Box o' Stuff to cook supper while Misseswether began setting up the tent. Suddenly five Hoodlums showed up, set up our tent, our shade screen (cheap piece of crap, don't buy one!), shook hands, played with the Wethergirls, then faded back into the woods.

Camp up and ready in under twenty minutes. Sidenote: our camp-potty is on the other side of the tent.

By Friday evening almost 100 Hoodlums were present. Many had only interacted via the internet so the first day/night was spent matching names to faces. There was some crossover between the Hoodlums, Equipped to Survive forums and Zombie Squad so we weren't adrift among total strangers.

Being well acquainted with the effects of whiskey, scotch, beer, and moonshine me and the girls went to bed early(ish) as Saturday was going to be a big day. Hoodlums don't just hang out in the woods chatting, they hang out in the woods chatting while teaching/learning stuff.

Saturday's Dutch oven class. Misseswether and Mambowether learned how to make bread and cobbler.

Mambo kneads the bread dough.

Misseswether's damn fine loaf of Dutch oven bread.

Mambowether and I learning about edible plants from T.R. Zimmerman.

Miniwether teaching the other kids how to catch grasshoppers for bait then how to catch fish.

Knot class.

Bronze casting

Hitting stuff with a big bone class.

Of course, it's not just classes, showing off and swapping gear, the Hubcap of Shame, etc... There's also EATING!

40 grilled rabbits, wild hog ham, beef brisket, venison fajitas and sausage, and so very much more!

Clark and I getting ready to have dueling campstoves. Yes, Clark and family came!

Yes, I showed people how to cook June bugs...

...and Miniwether showed people how to eat them. Seriously, she did.

Most of the time the Wethergirls and Clarkettes just ran free. There weren't any dangers other than cowpies and red ants, so they could roam.


Meanwhile, Misseswether and Mrs. Clark would take occasional nerd breaks. Yes, Misseswether was teaching herself the Python Programming Language and Mrs. Clark read her Kindle.

The site was a true slice of heaven. Daytime highs were in the low 80's and under the big oak trees it was much cooler than that. At night it dropped down into the 60's.


The camp.

The pond.

It did get some good rains both Saturday and Sunday but even this didn't put much of a damper on things.

Misseswether leading the kids in musical chairs during the rain.

Clark and I handled the rain our own way.

We spent four awesome days/three incredible nights camping out there. The nights were spent sitting around the bonfire with dozens of other Hoodlums swapping stories, telling jokes, or just sitting quietly watching the beautiful night sky. We were far, far from "civilization" so the sky was ablaze with slowly circling and occasionally falling stars.

Damn it was great.

We're home now, have been for several days. Most of the gear has been put away except for the tent. It still needs to be cleaned. The Hoodlums will have another big gathering in the Fall. It's going to be really hard to wait that long to do this again. The Hoodlums were easily the FINEST people I have EVER had the pleasure of meeting. I've told less than half of what all went on at this event. There was magic in those woods that long weekend.

You know what, I think a lot of you readers would fit in with the Hoodlums perfectly. I'd love to see you join the forum. I'm looking at you, Happy Texans, Lone Star Chris, BigDaddyTX, Dr. Zyme, kmat, Librarian, Wildman800, Wildcat, and all the rest of you who think the woods are a right and proper place to be! Izzy is already there. Don't y'all want to be as cool as him?

Adventure! Excitement! Misseswether spent the whole weekend in high heels!


BigDaddyTX said...

That looks like a great place, and a great time. The Hoodlums really know how to do a get together. I'll fire up my old account and start poking around again; too many boards and not enough hours in the day, but I sit and sift through ZS too much anyway. The photo section over there is worth the visit alone, there are just some beautiful places out there people get to live and practice their skills.

Looks like some Hoodlums will potentially be joining us at Armand Bayou?

My account over there is BigMark.. with only 30 posts I should probably just make a new one.. I probably will.

Anonymous said...

Its funny. I'm already a member there although I have done a lot of lurking with no posting. MrEarp

Shreela said...

What fun pics; my absolute fav is of Miniwether eating the bug, and the blonde girl covering her face.

Kelly said...

OMG, that looks like so much fun! Are there trailer hookups? LOL

I especially like the wall of meat. not a good day for rabbits.

Looks like a blast. I haven't had real moonshine in years. brewed in a cave in Georgia, it was. Would cure any disease. I believe it so it must be true.

I'll check out the hoodlums. Sounds like a fun and educational group.

BTW, I just planted some morning glory so I will be making hearts explode soon. Part of my mad scientist in training program.