Adventures of a Modern Day, Middle-Aged Hero, on the Glory Road(to family security)


Mountain House Review

While hunting alone last week, I brought a variety of items up for food.  Most of my needs were met by a loaf of bread and jars of peanut-butter and jelly...but for dinner, I wanted something more.  I brought a few frozen items, and at my wife's recommendation, I brought a few packets of Mountain House freeze dried entree's...you know, to rotate our stock.

I only had two packages during the week I was hunting...one of Noodles and Chicken, and one of Pasta Primavera.  Quite surprisingly, the Pasta Primavera was the better one.

For all intents and purposes, the 'Noodles and Chicken' might as well have been a cup of noodles soup...but, it was a good one.  I also learned that when they tell you to add the hot water and stir well...you need to Stir Well...the bottom 1/3rd of the pouch was much more flavorful than the top.

The Pasta Primavera actually impressed me.  I was somewhat suspicious of it, because it contained no meat...just zucchini, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, and green beans, with a cheese sauce.  The cheese sauce was described as 'parmesan'...I felt it was more like a cheddar flavor...but it was still pretty good...and hearty for something not having meat.

Now...so...taste was good for the Pasta Primavera, and acceptable for the Noodles and Chicken.  Both of them were convenient to prepare...just open the package, pull out the desiccant, and add boiling water.  My only reservation was serving size...and calorie count. 

Each entrĂ©e pouch is listed as being two servings...but I'm here to tell you that I was able to finish both of them myself without feeling like a glutton.  I think if you are splitting it between two people, you better have a great side dish to go with it...and that is just from a full belly perspective.  Calorie wise, the two I tried were listed as 220 calories per serving.  If you are a hunter, or a backpacker, you are probably going through more than 2000 calories a day, meaning if you are looking forward to you end of day meal being your biggest meal of the day...even if you eat a full pouch, you are probably not eating as many calories as you are burning. 

Which is fine if you are only going 2-3 days at a pop like I was doing...heck coming home 3-4 pounds lighter than I left was nice.  But...if you are doing a week of back-country hiking, you might start feeling a little weak and hungry after a few days.

All in all, while I was satisfied with the Mountain House stuff...it's not an MRE.  It is lighter than an MRE though, while taking up roughly the same cubic footage.  So...if you are worried about weight, the Mountain House might make sense...if you are worried about not going hungry, than the MRE might be the better choice. 


Increasing restraint.

Yesterday we had some friends come over from Western Washington for a visit.  We were lucky enough that they had some business to do that brought them within spitting distance of our house, so our house was a nice place for them to spend the night...and then, in another stroke of luck their actual business was quick enough that we were able to hand out and do some wine tasting.

Our friends recently got their license approved to open a cidery, and they ran all the way to Eastern Washington to get a 275 gallon tank filled with apple juice from one of the fruit processors here.  I guess on one of their first practice batches, they tried starting with apples, and the whole 'apple pressing' thing was just an royal, inefficient pain in the rear...buying the juice is a much more efficient starting point for them.

On the one hand...I am jealous of our friends.  They have a 5 acre farm outside of Poulsbo, Washington.  They have chickens, and goats, and kunekune pigs...and all that sounds very 'homestead'-ish...but in addition to that they also both have full-time jobs...and that makes me not as jealous...because all those animals, and all that land, and now a cider operation, is at least a 3rd full-time job...and I flash to some of those days I get home from my job, and I don't have the motivation to properly take care of my 6 raised beds and 4 chickens.

So, I am honored that they choose to spend some of their free time with us.

And good free time it was...we spent about 4 hours criss-crossing Prosser, Washington, visiting countless wineries...somewhere between 9-12 of them...which is less than 50% of them.  In fact, after stop #1, we decided that the correct thing to do if we hoped to survive the day was to split tastings instead of doing a full tasting at each winery.

It was a wise decision.

And while I am getting better at not buying something at every winery we stop at, we also didn't come home empty handed.

4 new bottles of wine, and then a bottle of some very, very smooooooth vodka, from Blue Flame Spirits, which was a nice change of pace stop half-way through the day.  The great vodka, a nice gin, and then both a wheat whiskey and a rye whiskey, all of which were tasty.  However...Blue Flame was also the place where I put the most horrifying thing we tried all day into my mouth...Grappa.  Holy Moly...that stuff smelled remarkably like paint thinner...and didn't taste much different than it smelled. 

Luckily, Kestrel Vinters tasting room was right next door to act as a pallet cleanser. 


Expectations vs. Reality

Sorry...things have been a little quiet around here this week.  Between wrapping up my hunting season, starting hunting with my daughter, and starting rehearsals with the Mid Columbia Master Singers, things in the real world have been busy, busy, busy.

So far the hunting with my daughter has been...interesting.  And, well...frustrating.  Opening morning of the season, we could have theoretically been done hunting by 7:45.  A few does crossed our path about 80-100 yards away...and we set up the Primos Shooting Stick...and my daughter, well...she decided she wanted to talk instead of taking the shot. 

'Daddy...it looks awfully small in the scope'.  Well...let me dial it up.

'Daddy...I can't shoot, it's moving...and YOU told me not to shoot at a moving deer.'  Yes honey...but there is a difference between a deer that is slooooooowly drifting from bite to bite of grass and a deer that is hopping away.

Eventually, I told her the truth...if you aren't comfortable taking the shot, don't take the shot.  It was early on opening day...there will be other chances.

Famous last words.  While we saw other deer, it would be Sunday afternoon before we got a realistic chance at another shot...and those deer were 150+ yards away...which looks further than that to a muzzleloader hunter and a first time 12-year old...but, the deer gave her a nice, stationary broadside shot...which she missed.

She told me she missed even as she was pulling the trigger...and when questioned how she knew she missed, she told me that she wasn't sure the crosshairs were on the deer when she pulled the trigger.

Face-palm...and then a deep breath.  And then a conversation about how much she really wanted to be hunting.  There were no tears...just me trying to talk to my 12-year old like a grown up.  It kind of turns out that REAL hunting was different than Cabela's Big Game Adventures on the Wii...which I tried to explain a LONG time ago. 

God Bless her though...she stuck with it...and she even enjoyed part of it.  Monday, we went back out, and she got to watch two coyotes playing with each other as the sun came up, and then she got to watch a group of does walk towards us, or at least our general direction...and then she got to learn the frustration of trying to stalk multiple deer.  And she smiled.

On the other hand, there is the painful reality that I might be in over my head with this choir that I have joined.  We have had two rehearsals so far...and I am struggling.  We have a month to the show...and I think I would be struggling just to learn the German pronunciation OR just to learn the music...let alone learn both. 

Luckily, we have been able to get our hands on some nice practice CD's...and I have a 35 minute drive to and from work...oh, and an hour drive to and from the hunting area a few times the next couple of days.

I hope my daughter likes Brahms.


Pit Stop

Well, back from elk hunting for a whole day before heading out tomorrow morning with my daughter for her deer hunting season.

Obviously, if I was successful, there would be victorious pictures of dead animals.  Instead...no pictures right now.  It is a case of close, but no cigar.  This is one of the first times I have burned enough leave to actually hunt the middle of the week(usually, I take a day or two off to hunt long-weekends. 

It's a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, I had the better part of 50,000 acres basically to myself...but, there was no one else to help push animals around.  For the better part of 3 days, I chased a herd of 18-20 elk from ridge to ridge, and was constantly outguessed by them.  With no other hunter pressure, there were just too many options open to them, and I was never able to properly 'head them off at the pass'. The closest I ever got was about 300 yards, which is no easy shot even with a scope, let alone a muzzle-loader. 

It doesn't matter.  I was frustrated enough I actually packed up and came home late Thursday night instead of hunting Friday...I wasn't enjoying myself anymore, and I was sore, and wore out from spending 13 hours a day sitting in the 80+ degree afternoon sun.  All along, I have said the most important hunting season this fall is taking my daughter out...and I didn't want to go into that season in the mood I was in Thursday.

A day at home has helped.  The alarm is set to go off at 4:30, and I am excited.  My daughter appears to be excited, but my wife also said she has expressed some doubts to her about her ability to actually kill something.  Not sure how I will handle that yet if it becomes an issue.  Deep breathes and patience are the word of the day.   



What is the better story:' Last day of the season I saw a buck, but decided the shot was not within my capabilities', or 'Last day of the season I took a shot I was uncertain I could make, and missed'. 

Well...if you read a lot of Field and Stream and Bugle, you know the answer to that one...those magazines are full of ethical hunters, and 'Yeah, it was the last night of the season, and it was the biggest buck I had ever seen, but there was a twig in my way, so I passed up the shot'. 

I guess I am not that guy. 

My moment of truth was not at closing light, but rather the morning of the last day of the season.  For a couple of days, I had been playing hide and seek with a group of deer...there was a doe, a spike, and then a larger buck I hadn't properly ID'd.  A few times I saw them in the distance, and a time or two I jumped them out of their beds and couldn't get a clear shot through the shoulder high sage brush...but the last day of the season, I guessed right.  Or close to right.

I picked a nice spot on one side of a draw, looking across at a few game trails...and right around 8 am, a doe and spike walked out onto the ridgeline, followed about 10 minutes later by the mystery buck, who turned out to be a nice looking 3 X 4.  Nothing trophy worthy, but a nice legal buck. 

Folks...I had that buck gutted, skinned, and dropped off at the butchers in time to make it home to watch the Patriots...in my mind. 

However...after about 15 minutes that seemed like a lifetime, it because apparent that the deer were slowly but surely working their way up the draw away from me, extending the range. 

Poop.  I started trying to butt-slide my way across the slope...but sage and sharp rocks are not your friend when you are trying to be quiet.  At best, I was able to keep pace with them, but I was not gaining distance...and I had a choice to make.

I figure my ideal range at 100-120 yards on a deer sized target.  I figured this buck to be about 150 yards away, and uphill.  Previous times I had seen him, he was 300+ yards away, which is an easy call to make.  But...just 30 yards or so past my comfort level?  Standing broadside? 

I took the shot. 

In a situation like this, the 'worst case' isn't a miss...it's a bad hit.  Luckily...I didn't have to deal with that worst case...I saw the dust kick up a foot below the buck...but I was so far away the deer really didn't spook.  Of course...now my reloads were 25 yards back down hill, where I had left my back pack before I started butt-crawling. 

Well...the deer didn't stick around for that. 

Dang, and double dang.  I did some looking, just in case I had hit the deer, but there was no blood.  By the time I paced things off, it looked like the shot had been closer to 200 yards than 150 yards...but...I still feel pretty lame.  By taking the shot and missing...it's my skill and judgment that were lacking.  If I had passed up the shot....well, then I would be a great sportsman who surely would have made any shots inside my range.

Poop, Poop, Poop. 

Oh well...I'm home for the night for a shower, to wash some clothes, and reload the cooler.  I head back out tomorrow morning to finish out the last 4 days of elk season.  Opening morning of elk season, I saw a herd a 35 head out a distant ridgeline while sitting and glassing.  It's a good 1.5-2 mile hike...but I figure I will load up my backpack with snacks and PLENTY of water and hike in...and sit, and sit, and sit. 

And this time, I'll wait for the right shot.


Hmmm...that looks nice.

Kind of jealous of the cats...

And the worst part is that I know my wife is going to make me take a shower before I get to sit on the couch when I get back from hunting.

Everyone have a nice weekend...and be safe out there. 


11 days!

I'm taking all of next week(and the following Monday) off, so that adds up to 11 days off before I have to go back to work...and I'm going to spend most of that time hunting: sweating in the afternoon(because it's still supposed to be in the low 80's) and sleeping in a tent at night...missing football...

Wait a minute...who's idea was this? 

Tonight, it's re-organizing all my boxes, making sure I have the clothes and supplies to make it 3 or 4 nights, before I finally break down and drive the 2 hours home for a shower.

Hopefully, a few of those fork-horns I saw last weekend grew another antler-point in the last 5 days...