Tuesday, October 20, 2009

And then West

I've been spending a lot of time driving the last two weeks. Something over 1420 miles if google maps can be trusted, most of which was on I-10. First east to New Orleans and then west into the Texas Hill Country.

I'd say Mambowether thought it was worth it.

It was time for the Texas Hoodlums 2009 Fall Thing! Four days of camping, bushcraft, eating, and making merry! Sadly we could only attend three days, and two of those were spent on the road to/from the gathering. My original plan was to go alone but with a wife and kids like mine that plan was quickly shot down. So instead of arriving either late Thursday night or early Friday morning we ended up arriving well after dark Friday evening. Misseswether teaches art studies for our homeschooling group and couldn't play hooky Friday. Oh well.

Actually, at this point our fellow Hoodlums weren't even expecting me. I picked up a wicked head cold in New Orleans so I told them I probably wouldn't be coming. There were many shouts of joy and greetings when they saw my truck bouncing across the field to our traditional the campsite and several Hoodlums ran over to help us set up camp in the dark. Thirty minutes later under Misseswether's directions a patch of empty soil had been turned into a 4-star campsite loaded with amenities. When camping with Misseswether certain comforts are required...

Wethercamp: including the Amazing Box o' Stuff and our own private privie.

The Wethergirls were tired after the long drive out to Oxford Ranch and quickly decided to go to bed. Misseswether stayed with them and I joined them an hour later.

Saturday morning in paradise.

Being an early riser, I had the pleasure of watching the sun rise over the fishing pond. A few others were up but until the first cup of coffee had been drank it's not really safe to approach the average Hoodlum, mainly because the average Hoodlum (man or woman) carries a minimum of three knives and a large-caliber handgun.

Three knives I traded for at the Fall Thing, an 18" Cold Steel Bowie Machete, an Ontario Knives Spec Plus Quartermaster, and a custom skinner.

As usual at Hoodlum gatherings, there was plenty of stuff to do. Of course my daughters chose fishing while I went hunting edible plants and Misseswether attended presentations on wound care and how to make/sew your own outdoors gear. The making class really excited her and as soon as I can get her some patterns and fabric she's going to make us all sorts of cool stuff.

Fishing with RCWalla.

Me looking at plants.

One of the big, traditional Hoodlum events is the trade blanket. This is a great place to get rid of excess gear, interesting artifacts, and assorts other outdoorsy stuff. Miniwether shyly partook for the first time. I had given her a raccoon skull to put up for trade which scored her a really nice, hand-made bamboo flute.

Sinew-wrapped bamboo fulute!

More importantly, the flute making included a lesson to get her started playing. Both she and Misseswether spent a lot of time practicing with it. I expect beautiful music from them soon.

There was also a forge set up where the Hoodlum custom knife makers were working. These guys do amazing work, not only making knives but also beautiful custom leather sheaths for their knives. This weekend they were making a "big chopper" knife from I think the leaf spring of a car and also a tomahawk from a ball peen hammer.

Cranking the bellows.

Heating the steel.

Of course, what would time in the woods be without critters?!

Miniwether and crickets. She'd catch them, then toss them into the water where turtles would swim up and eat them. It was very entertaining!

Giant red ants.

Dragonflies were swarming all over.

A black widow spider, just to keep us on our toes.

Some sort of rodent.

Alas, Saturday passed way too quickly, but that just meant it was time for the other thing Hoodlums do exceptionally well in the woods: EAT!

Saturday night potluck.


Eating around the campfire.

The very cool Hoodlum Wolf O'Lantern.

There was no moon and we were miles from anywhere so the Milky Way filled the sky. I tried taking a picture but it didn't work. It was wonderful to see it again. It was the Wethergirls' first time and they were amazed by it. In Houston only the thirty brightest stars are visible but above us that night were millions and millions of stars. We all spent a lot of time just looking up at them in awe.

The Wethergirls had run themselves ragged and even a sky full of stars couldn't keep them awake. They and Misseswether retired around 9pm while I once again stayed up late drinking hard apple cider and talking. It kind of helped my head cold, though actually sleeping would have probably helped it more. Throughout the night coyotes howled off in the distance.

The bright dot is Venus.

Sunday morning came way too soon. It seemed like we had just set up camp and now it was time to pack it all up again. Once again Misseswether took charge.

This is how you roll a sleeping bag! Sidenote: this is why they call her "Heels". Those are the shoes she wore all weekend, just like last time.

Taking down the tent. Eventually she figured out why I was taking so many pictures of her...

One must lay on the tent to pack it down as small as possible.

Meanwhile I just kept the girls out of her way.

Treasure! Or just a pile of rose quartz...it really depends on your point of view. Sidenote: Shotgunner's Girl was proof the best toy for a kid is another kid. Those two were inseparable the whole time.

Red Rider packed and ready to head home. Sidenote: bungie cords scratch the heck out of your paint job, even if the metal hooks are vinyl-coated. Grrrr!

Me after a late lunch at a Jack in the Box in New Braunfels on the drive home.

It's difficult to keep the girls entertained during the long drive home. We don't have/want an in-car DVD player so the girls slept, which was great and also drew pictures of their weekend, which was neat.

"That's me and that's mommy and that's daddy and that's a a rodent of some sort."

"That's Mambo in her sleeping bad just before she peed in it."

Eventually we made it home. Misseswether tried to scrub the girls clean while I unloaded Red Rider, then we both collapsed into bed. Monday night was spent put all the gear away and making lists of what we did and didn't use. Each time we go out I try and cut back on the amount of gear we take without cutting into Misseswether's comfort.

Hmmm, looking back over this post it seems like a very boring writeup of a wonderful time. Sorry about that. Sometimes I think I've jumped the shark with this blog. Oh well, if it's just a family scrapbook for me to look back on years from now then so be it. Hopefully you'll find a few useful or entertaining nuggets in it.

Adventure! Excitement! Camp!


Izzy G. said...

Mini and Mambo are grownin' up quick. And darn you for living West enough to get with the Hoodlums. Darn you to darnsville.

Mike_H said...

You live quite the charmed life. I'm jealous!

I'm just happy to be going camping this weekend, even with the expected rain.

Anonymous said...

Looks like a fabulous time with some gorgeous weather. It's so nice to see your girls entertained the old fashioned way - being outdoors with little friends.

Bramble said...

I get a huge kick out of those heels! I admire anyone with that strong a sense of self.

Bramble said...

Almost forgot...kudos for not backing down on the DVD thing. Squib is convinced I'm the devil for depriving him of such things...I'll tell him I'm in good company.

Kelly said...

Looks like a great time. Hey, we homeschool too. :) Keeps me busy. VERY busy.

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