Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Red Rock Canyon - Las Vegas

Well, we spent the weekend in Vegas and really had a good time. We stayed at the Wynn and got a really good deal on it using hotwire.com and betterbidding.com to get a good idea of which hotel it was before we booked it. It was really nice and we ended up paying less than we would have for nearly any of the other hotels on the strip that weekend. I should have taken some pictures of the room, but I didn't even think of that.

This was our "babymoon". Our first trip without Eli since he was born. We were a little nervous leaving him, but Cathy's sister came and stayed at the house along with Cathy's parents so we felt like he was in pretty good hands. Everything went very well from that perspective, everyone had a good time, although I think they went back home a little tired from keeping up with Eli.

I played a little poker at the Wynn, but the tables were really tight because they were having a free roll tournament this week and lots of locals were playing to get enough hours in for the free roll so the tables were anything but loose.

The high point of the weekend was spending a day at Red Rock Canyon. We got to go out there for a few hours with Eli back in December, but we were able to do some real hiking and climbing this time without him. It was a perfect day for outdoor activities with the temperature starting that morning in the upper 60's and ending that afternoon in the upper 70's with plenty of sun and light winds.

When we got married, Cathy was afraid of heights and for the last 16 years she has steadily improved in that area since I've drug her around with me on several different hikes and climbs. She did VERY this time and actually seemed like she enjoyed herself.

Oh well, I took a lot of pictures and will post a few and then give a link to the rest of them.

Here's probably my favorite picture of the day. This picture was taken up near the top of our climb. If you look closely you can see some cars on the road down below on the left for perspective.

Here's a picture of Cathy on one of the rock faces. The camera perspective is always deceiving on how steep things are to me. This picture looks like it was almost a sheer cliff, but she was able to walk up it. Other pictures where we were actually climbing and pulling ourselves up look almost flat.

This was probably the best picture of me. This was at the top of our climb. Another one where the perspective is off as about 3 feet behind me, and on both sides was a sheer drop of about 200 feet. I tried to convince Cathy to come out and try a timed picture with the camera, but she was happier taking the picture where she was.

This is basically our climb. We ended up climbing up on the far left hand side of this picture and then going across the top and coming down along the ledge you can see that starts and the top right and ends up down a little to the left of center. That's a sheer cliff in the center and if you click on the picture to enlarge it you can actually see some climbers on it to give you some perspective on how big it is. There are also some hikers in the very bottom front of the picture for perspective as well.

Here's another picture from the same spot. It looks like the spot that we climbed in the center was way shorter than the area on the right hand side of the picture, but the right hand side of the picture is just closer so it looks taller. It was actually about the same height.

Lots (as in over 30) more pictures in the photo gallery if you are interested. I really like that place and sometime I'm going to have to spend a whole week out there, but for now I'll just enjoy it when I get to.

Here's a link to the photo gallery - http://padens.com/v-web/gallery/album06?page=3

I did break my record with 7 posts in April!

That's it for now.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Caught on Camera!

Well, this is old news now, but I had some down time in the Albuquerque airport yesterday and was finally able to sort through and upload some of the pictures I got off my trail cameras the last time I was down at the land.

I had looked at these pictures earlier, but finally got them uploaded. One of my trail cameras actually captured a picture a split second after I shot a couple pigs.

Here are a couple pigs coming into my feeder.

Here's the 2nd shot in the photo sequence 7 seconds later. (The camera takes 2 pictures in a row then waits 3 minutes before taking more pictures) I must have shot a split second before this picture snapped.
Then here I am a few minutes later wondering how the pig that I shot in the head got up and ran off.
It wasn't until I pulled the card on the camera and looked at it that I noticed that I had actually shot 2 pigs instead of just one. If you look closely the pig running off at the top of the 2nd picture was leaving a pretty good blood trail but I didn't notice it since it was dark and I was trying to figure out how the pig that I shot in the head got up and ran off.

There was very little blood where it had laid there and it laid there for at least 5 minutes before getting up and running off. I shot it with a 7mm Rem Mag so it wasn't short on knock down power. I looked for several hours the next morning and never found the head shot pig, but I did find the gut shot pig about 200 yards away. I guess I should quit trying head shots.

Thought it was interesting to have pretty much the actual shot on camera though.


P.S. - The time stamp on the camera is wrong. It was really around 8:15 PM when I shot them.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Wooden Playhouse Project!

Well, since I'm on a roll and already have the pictures uploaded I might as well make it 3 posts in 3 days! I'm finished with Eli's Playhouse!

I've actually been looking on craigslist for a wooden playground set for over a year now, but there just aren't many that come up for sale in Lubbock and when they do they go quick and for pretty high prices. As a last ditch effort, I checked ebay and found a really nice one, but it was on the other side of Dallas and I really didn't want to drive over 350 miles each way to get a playground set.

I did have a meeting in the Dallas area on Tuesday though, and the auction ended on Monday so I asked if I could pick it up Tuesday if I won the auction and they said that would work for them and sure enough, I won the auction. I ended up paying less for the entire thing than just the curly slide on the end costs at Home Depot!

I ended up driving to my meeting in Dallas instead of flying and pulled my 16' utility trailer to haul the playhouse back with me. After my meeting I got to Royce City around 4:30 and with a lot of help (the guy I bought it from, plus his wife, plus at least 1 other guy helped the entire time) we ended up with it disassembled and loaded onto the trailer around 8:00.Thankfully it all made it back to Lubbock with me and I pulled down our driveway at 3:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning!

I'm very thankful to have a tractor with a front end loader. I have some pallet forks I can strap onto the loader and I was able to pick up the base to the playhouse and set it where I wanted it all by myself Friday evening. It had taken 4 of us to load it onto the trailer and we never did actually lift it all the way up, we just picked up one end and slid it onto the trailer. I'm guessing it weighed somewhere around 700 - 800lbs.
I bought a couple boards that we had broken getting it apart and a 5lb box of good decking screws and called a friend to see if they could help and had everything ready to go on the assembly on Saturday afternoon after we got back from Thomas the Train.

Here's Ben helping get the platforms bolted to the 4x4's. The assembly really went smoothly and we didn't hit any major snags.
Here's another a couple hours into the afternoon. Putting it back together was like a giant jigsaw puzzle. The biggest help was that they stained it after they had assembled it so you could usually figure out where things went by the gaps in the stain where they attached to another board.
Putting the slide on. This gives a pretty good perspective on how big this thing is. At the peak it is about 15' tall. The main structure is 5' wide x 10' long with one 5'x5' platform at 4' high and another 5'x5' platform at 6' high. It also has a little triangle coming off the end where the 2nd slide goes.
Here's how it looked when we finished the day.
About 6 hours of work with 2 guys. At that point most of the beams just had 1 or 2 screws in place holding them up, but everything that required more than one person was complete.

Sunday after church, I put on the rest of the slats and put in nearly a full 5lb box of screws. A little smoothing with my tractor where I had to dig down to get the swing set level and I was happy with the finished product.
And most importantly, Eli was happy with the finished product too!
Well, that's about it for now. A VERY busy week and I'm tired!


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Thomas the Tank Engine

Well, today Eli and I both got to ride on a train for our first time ever! We took Eli to see Thomas the Train and he really had a great time! They had several tents with trains setup and other things going on. As we were leaving they were taking another group of kids on a ride and we got to get some good pictures of the train.

He seemed to have a really good time. We ended up buying a wooden train whistle at the gift shop. I made some really good progress on his wooden play house swing set this afternoon, hopefully I'll get it finished tomorrow after church and I'll post on that as well.

I'm just a blogging fool, 2 posts in 2 days!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Shed hunting...

Well, I'm finally getting around to posting the results of my shed hunting excursion last weekend. (I'm talking about shed antlers, not small buildings)

I got down to the land to check cameras, fill feeders, pig hunt, turkey hunt, and last of all shed hunt. I'm not very good at shed hunting (I spent 12 hours looking last year and found 2 sheds, both over a year old) but I figured I would at least give it another try. With 8 different bucks on camera during the last month I figured I had a potential of finding 16 shed antlers. The problem is that I think most of them must be bedding off my property and that's where they seem to always drop their antlers.

I did better than last year though, I found 1 shed from this year, 1 shed from last year and 1 shed from the year before. I also found a broken off antler that I need to figure out which buck that came off of. So 3 1/2 sheds is an improvement from last year, and I only ended up looking for about 5 hours so I think I'm getting a little more efficient. It was a perfect day for shed hunting with cool weather allowing me to wear long sleeves to help protect myself from all the thorns and cactus scrambling through the brush.

I also seem to find hog skulls when I'm shed hunting. I typically leave the carcass of the hog (I quarter them out and take the backstraps) where I shoot them. Scavengers then haul off the rest and clean everything up really well except the skulls. I found 2 complete skulls, 2 upper skulls and 3 lower jaws this time.

Here's the results: I also did a little chainsaw work. I did see a gobbler and had him talking back to me, but I couldn't get him to commit enough to come within shooting range. At least I saw one out there, hopefully I'll get back out there one more time before turkey season ends.

That's about it for now. Still have my pig hunt results to post. It was pretty interesting!


Monday, April 13, 2009

Stickers is Alive!!

Well, I went down to the land over the weekend and will have more to post on that later, but probably the best news from the trip is that Stickers is still alive!

I had pretty much written him off as goner since last year he showed up in January and was a regular visitor to my protein feeder pretty much all spring and summer. This year I still didn't have a single picture of him until last week. I had a few that looked like him and then I have one that is pretty much unmistakable.
He doesn't look like anything special there, but he is pretty easy to identify since he is blind in his right eye and his right ear is messed up and droops down. He was #2 on my hit list last year but he disappeared in August and was never seen again, in person or on camera. There's a good chance that will happen again this year but at least this way I know there is a chance, however remote it might be.

Here's one of the last pictures that I got of him last year and maybe you can tell why I'm somewhat excited to see him around again this year!

I was guessing him at 4 1/2 years old last year so that would put him at 5 1/2 years old this year and that should be close to his peak year of antler growth. Last year he had about a 5" sticker coming off his left antler that ended up dropping off right before he started shedding velvet so it will be interesting to see how he develops this year.

My trail camera setup on that feeder went on the blink last year in late August early September so I'm not sure exactly when he quit coming around, but by the time I got another camera up and working on that feeder in October I didn't see him again. He hung around with Double Wide last year and Double Wide is gone now, so maybe his patterns will change and he'll stick around longer into the fall.

Lot's of other things to post on from the weekend, but no time to post them right now. I'll try to get it updated soon.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Well repairs = Day off!

Well, I didn't start out intending to take the day off, but it ended up turning out that way.

When Cathy got up this morning she noticed right away that the water was not working. Our pressure tank's bladder has been out for a few months and I had been adding air to it and it was needing it again because the water had started surging, so I immediately assumed that the pump had gone out due to the constant on/off cycles which aren't good for the pump. That wasn't good as the pump is 176' deep and is pretty expensive to replace.

I got dressed and walked out to the well house and quickly discovered that the pump was still working. The well house was soaked and there was water everywhere! I walked up to it to turn the water off and lost one of my shoes in the mud!

We had some high winds during the night and the well house is simply covered with some plywood and it had blown around in the past so I had put a large piece of lumber on top of the plywood to keep it from blowing. Well, the wind was strong enough to still blow the plywood up, and when it did, the large piece of lumber dropped down into the well house and landed right on the only PVC pipe and cracked it, resulting in an extended soaking of everything. Not sure when it happened, but it had obviously been that way for several hours.

Well, (pun intended ;-) ) I decided that this would be a good opportunity to go ahead and replace the pressure tank instead of just fixing the broken PVC plumbing so I went into town and picked up a pressure tank and the fittings that I thought I would need.

The old tank was 10 years old, and the galvanized and copper pipes were pretty rusted together. I messed around with it for a bit and it was going to be more work than I expected, so I decided to just call and get someone to come fix it for me. I decided if they would do it for $200, I would just let them it, and I would go on to work. I called a few guys and found one guy that could get to it today but he wanted $250. I just couldn't bring myself to pay $250 for something that I knew I could do. It was around 10:00 by this time so I figured I could get it fixed and still get to work by 1:00 and get a 1/2 day in, right? Wrong!

I did get everything put back together by 1:30 (after another trip to the hardware store) and ate lunch and waited for the glue to dry. I took a picture of the completed repair job before I went in for lunch.
I still thought I might make it in to the office in time to get some work done, but when I went back out and turned the pump on, there was a leak! :-(

One more trip to the hardware store and I had unions on both ends. The problem with the way the way these tanks are traditionally plumbed is that you have to cut the PVC on both ends and then screw the galvanized and copper fittings out. The leak was where the T goes into the bottom of the pressure tank so I had to take everything back apart, and I wasn't as confident that it wouldn't leak as I was the first time, so I wanted to be able to take it back apart without having to cut and glue if there was a next time. Well the 2nd time it went back together I still had a leak where the T goes into the bottom of the pressure tank so I was VERY thankful for the unions this time. The T that I was using was from the old tank and it is copper. The female fitting on the pressure tank is plastic so I was afraid that I was going to break it by over tightening and I had actually under tightened it the first 2 tries. I tightened it all the way up on the 3rd try and it didn't leak!

Here's a picture of the completed project with unions on both ends.

Lots of narrative and not many pictures, but I forgot to take a picture of the old tank before I pulled everything apart. I did take a picture of where the male PVC adapter broke off inside the female galvanized elbow on the top of the well casing when the piece of lumber fell on it, but it didn't turn out very good. I ended up having to take a hack saw blade and cut slices out of the broken PVC inside the female galvanized elbow to get it out.

I actually still have a tiny leak right where the union is on the far right side of the pictures, but I'm going to have to buy another union in order to fix it because it is in the slip connection. I tried to pull it apart but it had already set and I was afraid it was going to break before coming apart. It should only take a few minutes to fix that and the water is back up and running so I'll probably do that this weekend.

I got everything done around 4:30 so I decided it was too late to go in to the office by then.

So that was my day today! In retrospect I probably should have just paid the $250 to have it installed and gone on to work. April 2nd isn't exactly a slow day for a CPA, but I should be able to catch back up. I do get a lot of satisfaction out of doing repairs and stuff on my own. I think I'll spend that $250 on something else instead!

That's it for now. Nathan