Sunday, November 30, 2008

Smoke in the Building

I actually rode along with our second engine out, Engine 252, to a call for smoke in the building. Engine 252 staged on the hard road, there were already 4 engines in and around the building, Engine 152 had the hydrant at the southwest corner. The truck set up to check the HVAC equipment on the roof. A unit on the third floor was found to be the problem. Maintenance workers took care of it. We got things packed back up and returned to the station.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Channeling Ansel Adams

Part of my out and about last Sunday morning took me to a lookout called Buzzard's Rock. There once was a stone wall that surrounded this lookout. It became a popular place for partying, still is, lots of broken bottles and spinning tires. Most of the stone wall has been destroyed and the rest graffiti'd. I walked down into the large rocks at the base of the lookout and got these pictures. When I saw them I thought I'd try an Ansel Adams black and white thing with them. Not too bad. But I guess the bottom line is they're no El Capitan and I'm no Ansel.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Burd Run Red Bird

Burd Run, at least the area I was at yesterday morning, sits just outside the Shippensburg University. It is a park owned by Shippensburg Township. In the 70's someone straightened the stream, I guess to make farming it easier. Four, maybe five, years ago University environmental students reconstructed the run to it's historical path. Along with this they planted native plants and informational signage along a path. During my walk I spotted several cardinals but with the thick brush I had to switch to manual focus and got some decent pictures. I also saw a blue jay, a small hawk and some ducks who saw me first. During summer walks I've heard and seen frogs and a lot more ducks. I'll remember this area next time I need to talk a walk and have limited time.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

On Frozen Pond

Happy Thanksgiving.
I went for a drive this morning. Out around the game lands hoping to see some game. Well, I probably should have gotten out of bed a little earlier. I saw nothing. Lots of small game hunters out and about so I didn't want to go for a walk without some orange on. Swung back into town and walked along Burd Run. More on Burd Run later. These gulls I found on the eastern outskirts of Newburg. I guess there won't be any fishing this morning.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Leaf Tobacco (PG LXXXIII)

Today's Gentleman is another from the streets of Lancaster,Pa. Located at 237 North Prince Street at the Prince Street Boutique. I'm going to take a guess but I think it says "Lancaster Co. Tobacco Company". Lancaster, as I've said before, is a big tobacco producer. I've seen it hanging in the Amish barns drying in the fall. What do you think? What you should be thinking is, "Hey, I've seen this building before." Cause you have. This is the backdrop for my August 2008 header.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Jays in the Afternoon

Like I was saying yesterday, my day, the first day of hunting in the Colorado mountains, had been trashed by two inconsiderate hunters. My afternoon was limited to bird watching. The most common bird we run into while hunting is the Gray Jay. Whiskey Jack. Camp Robber. Call them what you will they are comical to interact with. In the past while wasting time in camp we've tried to feed them out of our hand. We've put sunflower seeds on our hats and knees. They would fly close enough to knock the seeds off and then snatch them up and eat them on the nearest branch. The second picture isn't that great for quality but this is the closest he came to me. It is a Stellars Jay. That deep blue body with jet black head make him stand out. He is about eighty yards away. Did I mention the wind I had to deal with from the Snag? Look at the neck feathers on the Gray Jay, I'm lucky this picture turned out as good as it did with him swaying on that little pine tree.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Opening Morning - Colorado

Sunrise on the first day of hunting found me at the Snag waiting for the mountain to come to life. It was a little on the warm side but maybe it was the walk down that made it feel that way. My GPS waypoint had me sitting 0.4 miles from camp but the 600 foot elevation difference will tell you how steep the landscape was. Shortly after daylight arrived I saw a small buck feeding in a meadow 250 yards away and just over a small ridgeline. Small buck - first morning - I'll wait. Not too long after I could see a larger buck now feeding, but still he didn't seem big enough to pursue this early. Another short time later, still only a half hour after sun up, the two buck were in the meadow together feeding and sparring. At this point I realized that the bigger of the two was just that, bigger. Now to get closer, they didn't know I was around so I had time. Drop over the ridge, circle the aspen grove, pop back over the ridge and I'm only 150 yards away. It's that easy. But as I popped over the ridge... no deer. I waited a while and headed back to the Snag. As I'm getting back and set up a cow elk call comes from behind me. I look to see two hunters. Where did they come from? Well they sat down behind some pines 100 yards uphill from me. Millions of acres to hunt and they sit on my lap. A half hour later they start moving up the steep slope to north and traverse this slope for the next 3 hours. My day has been shot.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Milk Weed

These are milk weed pods releasing their seeds to the wind. These are not the tufts of truffula trees. Milk weed grows wild in fence rows and fallow fields or along roads such as this. I walked along the Big Spring this morning and saw a few birds but they were way smarter than me, I didn't get pictures of most. The cardinals, the kingfisher, the heron and the woodpecker all avoided the zoom lens. A pleasant, but brisk, walk regardless.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hello Winter

Today was another unseasonably cold day. Welcome to winter... a month early. That list of things I needed to do today looks a lot like my new list of things I need to do tomorrow. I doubt it'll be any warmer. A wise man once said, "Why put off until tomorrow what you can put off indefinitely?" A wise man indeed.
On a brighter note, I totally embarrassed my daughter getting this picture. Score one for the old man.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Cruising for Deer

Tuesday morning I drove to a job site on the outskirts of Newburg and Newville, Pa. Just as I was getting to where I needed to be I saw three deer in a sorghum field. It was a big buck tending to two doe. At that point I regretted not bringing the camera. Wednesday morning, camera in hand, same job, same route of travel , no deer. Thursday morning, leave even earlier. Same job, same route, only this time it was expanded. Through the Game Lands, along the Turnpike, down by the creek, no deer. Co-worker calls to tell me he's at the job and where was I? I was less than half a mile away, around one last turn, I'll meet him stash the camera under my seat, don't forget my water bottle, lock the truck before I leave, there's a deer in that field. There's a DEER in that field. Hit the brakes, hit the window, swing the camera, follow that deer. A whistle gets him to stop, but only for a moment. I hope the settings are OK, buck fever, I never checked them. Not too bad, Outdoor Life isn't gonna make an offer, but for my first cruise for deer these pictures recall the movie I see in my head. This will take some practice.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Scouting Day

In a parallel universe this day was known as Halloween. In the mountains this day was Scouting Day. It was a free day we allowed ourselves between the pack in and Saturday's season opener. Time to explore a new area and get to know our surroundings. While most of our group chose to hunt high I made the decision to hunt low. The outfitter and the packers pointed out a ridge on the way in and spoke of the success of this particular stand. So I headed down shortly after sunrise. Not long into the hike I spotted several mule deer feeding through the aspens. Once I got to the area I was scouting I spotted the deer in the second picture. Sorry, I had him in the binoculars longer than I should have and once I got the camera up he wouldn't stop for me. so it was this picture or no picture. Nice one. I know where I'll be hunting at first light tomorrow. But now it was time to reverse the half hour walk down here into and hour and a half walk back to camp. I hope there's still a few pancakes left when I get there.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Barn Behind the Church (PG LXXXII)

This is the last Mail Pouch Barn I have from Fulton County, PA. I'm sure there are more I'll have to look. This one was a doozey to find. I'll bet I drove past it three times before I spotted it. It's back a lane, probably 100 or 150 yards back from the main road. I drove back to the back parking lot of a church to find it and then back behind some storage units to get the picture. I didn't even notice until I processed the picture for posting that it is a two sided Mail Pouch barn. The front is so faded and with replaced boards in the daylight it isn't noticeable. The side is getting faded also. You really have to look hard to find some of these. Why would someone put one of these advertisements way back off the road where no one sees it?

This is along Route 30, two and a half miles west of Route 655, in Fulton County. Look for the church and the storage units. It's right across the street from the old Mail Pouch barn that fell down and isn't there anymore. You can't miss it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Back in the Saddle

The ride up seemed long, maybe it was just anticipation or maybe because it was filled with new scenery, views of the familiar yet new. The GPS tells me it is 2.1 miles from the pack station to Camp but two and a half hours in the saddle tells me we rode closer to 4 or 5 miles, the odometer on Leonard wasn't working. Ride east a while turn around and ride west for a while. A switchback here, a switchback there, here a switchback, there a switchback... (sorry). We stopped often to let the horses catch their breath, we too were slowly acclimating, at least some of us were, it would take a couple days at this altitude. Once in camp it was time to organize, make bunks, cut firewood and fill the water jugs. Maybe even take a short walk this evening. Mainly it was time to acclimate.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Packing the Mules

Finally our drive is over, now is time for a shower and one last meal before we head up the hill. I'm dropping name here, in case you find yourself in the Colorado intermountain area make the drive over to The Gashouse in Edwards. It's no Jackie's Old West but the food is well worth the stop.

Thursday morning it was time for the hour long drive to the pack station. Unload our gear to be loaded on the mules (we used 8), get the rules laid out for us on where to hunt and how the hunting has been and then it was time to be fitted to a horse for the ride to the top. My horse was Leonard. Leonard was about the size of a Smart Car only he emitted more exhaust than the subcompact car and needed refueling every half mile or so. He got me to camp with little or no problems except trotting a couple time even after I explained the 'boxer shorts' thing to him. So, after a little more than two days since leaving home we where about to begin our adventure.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Up and Ready to Go

Though wind, through rain, through dark of night the lights are up at the firehouse. Now all we need is the Christmas Parade to happen so we can turn them on. Santa and Tiny Tim can make their way up King Street and do that magic that they do and let the holidays begin. The Saturday after Thanksgiving was for years the traditional decoration day at the firehouse but last year the powers that be changed this. Oh, yeah, it seems everyone forgot that there is this other holiday between Halloween and Christmas. Lets just not let it get in the way of people buying stuff.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Barking Up the Right Tree

Hey, I'll take you all back to Colorado Monday, meanwhile you get to look up this here tree. Another of the only autumn pictures I took this fall. Rainy blah day today, I did take just a couple of pictures but had a lot of work to do. Maybe tomorrow I can get to take a walk.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Denver - Into, Through and Beyond

Denver has changed more than any other town in Colorado, I think. Then again maybe it hasn't. But my first time through Denver in 1989 the new airport (DIA) was not finished yet and Stapleton was still bustling. I can remember seeing jets taxiing over Interstate 70. Then came the new airport with it's 'Snow capped peaks". Who would build an airport out in the middle of the dessert plains? Well, not so slowly but surely there is development non-stop from DIA to downtown and up onto the eastern slope of the Rockies. Where did all these people come from? Sapp Brothers in Commerce City has been swallowed up by bigger and better. But just get me through this. Get me past Lookout Mountain, past Chief Hosa and on the other side of Idaho Springs so I can start to enjoy the beauty of this place. Out to where I can breathe or at least gasp in some fresh air. Get me to the mountains.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Living Through the Windshield

Where do I start telling you of the adventure that is driving across the country? Driving in the rain, watching the landscape changing before you eyes, those middle of the night-central Kansas-don't stare hypnotics, I don't know just what it is. You'll find yourself spotting a cell tower and seeing how long until you pass it (sometimes it could be 10-15 minutes). Keep rolling. And then the sunrises again and it's like walking into a different room. Here in Eastern Colorado it is the beauty of openness that make you fell like a kid at Christmas seeing things for the first time.
This picture is probably 25 hours into the trip, this is Eastern Colorado and the hill in the distance? That's Pike's Peak. Been there, done that.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Little Bit of Everything (PG LXXXI)

It's good to be back and it's good to see everybody else out there can't help but look up and notice when they pass a Painted Gentleman. This week, number 81, is one that slipped by the guys and it's in Ohio! I quickly pulled to the side of the street in downtown Ravenna, Ohio when I caught sight of this out of the corner of my eye. It's at 117 West Main Street at a place called, get this, Cheap Tobacco. When I shot this I was thinking, "Bull Durham" which is plain to see. But look at the circular design in the upper left. That made me think, "Mail Pouch". Look closely... it is a Mail Pouch. It also says, "Drink..." but I can't make out the name. the bottom says, " That Made M..." I don't know what that is the slogan for. I guess Mr. C. A. Beckley would sell anything to anyone, Stove, Furnaces, House Furnishings, Goods, etc. Keep your eye out one could be around any corner.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day Parade 2008

It's a shame that the crowds at the annual Veteran's Day Parade aren't bigger. With the crowds at the Halloween parade or even the Memorial Day Parade you would think there would be a better crowd. But no crowds this day. Yes, it was a short parade compared to others but the meaning behind it runs deeper. I sometimes think people don't want to know what some of these brave men and woman did to preserve our freedoms as long as there getting it for free.
Out of the blue last week while I was gone I got an email from an old friend I was stationed with in Germany. I haven't spoken with him in many many years but through some emails the past disappeared and we are reliving the old adventures we shared. It sound like he's is happy and in a good place. Also passed a couple emails with my old roommate and my most recent NYC tour guide. I hope to get back up and see him soon. Thank you guys for helping me make memories.

Monday, November 10, 2008


  • Miles driving across the country to the Elk Holy Lands..... 1702
  • Hours driving that 1702 miles..... 30.5
  • Mules to haul our gear to the top of the world..... 8
  • Hours in the saddle to go the 2.1 miles up to the top of the world..... 2.5
  • Days living above 10,000 feet..... 6
  • Outside air temperature.... 32
  • 2 hours in the Hot Springs Pool.... PRICELESS

Wishing you too had a black cowboy hat like everyone else..... YOU BET!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Thank You, Thank You Very Much

Yes, I'm back. Like everyone else on the big expedition I returned empty handed. That's correct we were skunked. Eleven trips since 1989, Dad's been on more than that since 1968 and this is the first time we were skunked. I did not even see an elk in the mountains. I saw a few deer, cat tracks and heard the coyote songs but no wapiti. The week started warm, in the fifties which changed Sunday night to snow, thunder and lightning and Monday's cold turned to Tuesday's wind (10- 20 mph gusting to 40)and snow which turned to Wednesday's 15 degrees with falling and blowing snow. Talking to our outfitter and other outfitters and hunters we were making out just as well as many others. More on all this later.
I want to take this time to thank those who helped out while I was gone. It's not that I couldn't have made up enough posts to last while I was gone but the goal here is to make you think, "Just what is he posting today?" What better way than to pique someone else's grey matter? So thank you Cincy Bill, your rapid fire response tells me you should fire up a blog of your own. Bill sent me enough to cover my whole leave of absence. I'll need to visit Cincy sometime, check out All American Ballpark if nothing else. Thank you.
Thank you also to Sparky. Sparky is a frequent commenter and has offered help in exploring places not many people see. I'll take him up on that soon. And Grizz, thank you. Between you and your daughter (it's the Blue Spotted Hen right?) You have captured the essence of the OOS. It may not be the perfect picture but it makes you want to say, "Hey, check this out! Have you ever seen this before?" Both of you, all three of you, keep up the good work and keep your eyes open, you never know what's next.
Finally thank you Mama Clep. I know it wasn't easy having such a perfect little brother but somehow you managed. And remember just 1 year 11 months and 2 more weeks and it'll be hunting trip time again. I can't wait.
And now the pictures. These were snapped somewhere along Interstate 70 through Indiana or Illinois. Out the side window of the truck with a longer exposure. Most of these missed the target trees, these tree were the best of them.